IFA Horticulture Chairman Gerry Reilly has told Minister for Horticulture Tom Hayes that the Government had failed the fresh produce sector by not adequately regulating the retailers and not banning ‘below-cost selling’ of their produce – the main threat to the sustainability of Irish Horticulture.
At a meeting of IFA’s Horticulture Committee with Minister Hayes, Gerry Reilly said, “While acknowledging that the Competition and Consumer Protection Act goes some way to addressing issues in the food supply chain, it fails to include a prohibition on below-cost selling”.
“This imbalance of power in the food supply chain has resulted in a situation where farmers are sometimes compelled to accept unreasonable conditions and prices that do not cover their costs or provide an economic return.”
“Fresh produce growers cannot continue in an environment where their produce is constantly being used by retailers as ‘loss leaders’ and being offered to consumers for way below the cost of production.”
The IFA Chairman called on Minister Hayes to take on board the priority actions for Horticulture in Food Wise 2025 by establishing a statutory funding mechanism to support EU-funded promotional campaigns aimed at increasing the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The IFA delegation included Potato Chairman Eddie Doyle, Apple Growers’ Chairman Con Traas, Soft Fruit Chairman Jimmy Kearns, Nurseries Chairman Val Farrell and Vegetable Growers Chairman Matt Foley.
Other issued raised with Minister Hayes included support from his Department and development of Fruit and Vegetable Producer Organisations, redevelopment of the potato seed industry in Ireland and Advisory and Technical staff vacancies in the Horticulture side of both Teagasc and the Department.
On Budget 2016, IFA sought increased funding under the 2016 Scheme of Investment for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector and also put proposals to the Minister making the case for changes in excise duty and licencing for craft cider produced at a micro-scale in Ireland. On Amenity Horticulture, IFA sought support for wholesale nurseries with stocks of Ash trees restricted by the Ash Dieback suspension.