Irish vegetable growers are in crisis due to a combination of continuing low farm gate prices and the on-going adverse weather conditions, IFA Field Vegetable and Protected Crops Chairman Matt Foley has warned.
Exceptional levels of rainfall and mild weather have led to quantity and quality issues on all winter field vegetable crops. Waterlogging and higher disease levels have resulted in crop losses running up to 30% across all lines. In some instances entire farm businesses are in jeopardy.
The IFA Chairman emphasised that this crisis was inevitable and has been flagged by the IFA to retailers for some time now. He said, “Continuing price wars among the retailers has resulted in unsustainable farm gate prices. Growers have limped along with poor returns and survived only due to exceptional yields and recent benign winters. However, the current crisis was always a question of when – and not if – it would occur. Existing producer returns include no accommodation for natural yield reductions and leave no leeway for reinvestment in farm businesses.”
Mr Foley has demanded that there be an immediate review on the farm gate prices being paid to producers, who are currently supplying at a loss. He added that growers are currently making decisions on planting programs and many are debating the viability of proceeding at current farm gate prices. Input costs continue to spiral upwards, including the recent increase in the minimum wage, while farm gate prices continue to decrease.
Mr Foley concluded by saying that retailers must be genuine about supporting Irish produce and restore a viable margin for the primary producer.