Speaking at the National Potato Conference in Co Meath today, IFA President Tim Cullinan called on the newly-approved Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri Food Supply Chain to ensure a fair share of the consumer price is paid back to farmers and unfair trading practices are eliminated.
Addressing the conference organised with Teagasc and Bord Bia, Tim Cullinan highlighted that with input costs at an all-time high, combined with uncertainty in the supply chain and a tough season for potato growers, now more than ever potato farmers need the market to return a fair price that makes their farms viable.
“Growers need to receive a fair share of the retail value. They carry all of the risk while the facilitators and retailers take the lion’s share of the margin,” Tim Cullinan said.
“The office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri Food Supply Chain is now approved and a budget is in place. This Office will be crucial in ensuring a fair share of the consumer euro goes to farmers, and in regulating unfair trading practices,” he said.
“If there isn’t a viable price for farmers for their work and investment, then we will see more farmers in horticulture and potato sectors go out of business,” he said.
The stark finding of the Jim Power report was that retail price compression threatens the viability of the Irish horticultural sector. In the report, commissioned by IFA, it found the average retail price of potatoes has declined by 14.6% between January 2010 and January 2021.
IFA Potato Chairman Sean Ryan said potato growers’ incomes are unsustainable and the farm gate price of the product must rise to cover storage costs alone. Retailers and packers/merchants must act now to address this if we are to have a potato industry in the future.
Teagasc Crops and Potato Specialist Shay said potato farmers have had a challenging season with input prices having increased dramatically over the last twelve months while storage costs for the coming season will also see substantial increases.
Blight and wireworm problems are also constant issues that have to be dealt with on an ongoing basis. The afternoon presentations at the conference will address these three critical issues for farmers and will give some guidance on how these can be controlled.