IFA Potato Chairman Eddie Doyle has called on retailers and merchants to ensure viable returns for potato producers this season as the harvesting of main crop potatoes starts in earnest.
The Potato Chairman was speaking at an Open Day on his farm to mark the start of the main crop potato season.
Doyle emphasised that potato growers continue to invest in their enterprises to produce an increasingly sustainable product and these efforts must be recognised by retailers, and farmers compensated accordingly. He said potato farmers who store potatoes to ensure a year-round supply have not received sustainable returns over the last number of seasons.
He reiterated the need for viable farm gate prices throughout the year and warned that IFA will not tolerate any attempt by merchants or retailers to undermine the market.
Department of Agriculture figures reveal the area of potatoes planted in 2017 is the second lowest on record; this should ensure a continuation of the balanced market, Eddie Doyle said.
Eight national schools from the local area and Waterford City visited Eddie Doyle’s farm during the Open Day to learn about growing and harvesting potatoes, with a major focus on farm safety. There were also live on-farm cooking demonstrations with well-known dietician Aoife Hearne on hand to explain the nutritional and health benefits of the potato.
Andrew Doyle, Minister of State for Horticulture also attended the Open Day and the IFA Chairman acknowledged the support given to the potato sector via the TAMS tillage scheme. However, he said further targeted support is needed, in particular for those producers in the fresh chip and salad potato sectors where there is major potential for import substitution.