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IHNSA chairman Val Farrell has called on all garden centres and retailers to support the Irish amenity sector. Speaking at today’s national trolley fair in the National Show Centre, Swords he said the amenity sector is an important indigenous sector, worth €72 million at farm gate of which nursery stocks account for €50m. The Chairman also urged consumers to support the sector by purchasing Irish grown plants.

The IHNSA in conjunction with IFA and Bord Bia held its first trolley fair of the season on March 5th. The event marks the start of the Irish nursery stock season and it is highly regarded in the industry. Bord Bia launched the “Value of the Garden Market Report” at the fair, it shows that the value of the amenity market has grown by 9%, currently standing at €795m.

Val Farrell is urging all garden centres and retailers to support the event. The fair brings together key industry leaders and it is an excellent opportunity to showcase Irish produce.

The IHNSA Trolley Fairs are supported by IFA and Bord Bia.

More details can be found on the website http://www.trolleyfairs.com/

IFA Grain Committee Chairman Mark Browne has welcomed the positive announcements by Quinn’s of Baltinglass and Dairygold regarding the pricing of the 2019 field beans crop.

He has called on all feed merchants to show a similar commitment to the home production of protein crops.

Mark Browne said that 2018 was a very difficult year for bean production due to a late spring followed by a summer drought. This resulted in a reduction in area of 40% from 2017, combined with yield reductions of up to 70% in some areas.

The IFA Grain Committee Chairman said, “These prices should encourage tillage farmers to consider beans despite last year’s poor crops and reinstall confidence in the sector.”

“Government support for protein crops in the form of coupled payments is vital for the viability of this sector and this must continue under both the current CAP and post-2020,” said Mark Browne.

Addressing a protest at an M&S store in West Dublin today (14 December), IFA President Joe Healy accused the retailer of gross hypocrisy by slashing the price of fresh produce below the cost of production.

“I want to nail the lie that vegetable and potatoes can be sold below cost without hurting Irish growers and ultimately driving them out of business. Using farm produce as a tool to drive footfall undermines Irish production and the financial viability of specialist growers and producers. The number of field vegetable growers fell from 377 in 1999 to 165 in 2015, a drop of 56% and this trend has continued. Farmers have invested hugely in their businesses to ensure sufficient supplies of fresh Irish produce. This predatory pricing model takes the inherent value out of fresh produce lines, leaving it difficult to ensure sustainable farm gate prices and demeans the category in the minds of the consumer,” said Joe Healy.

The IFA President said, “It’s been a very tough year on producers, with significant extra costs because of the late Spring and the drought conditions during the summer. Reducing the shelf price of some vegetables and potatoes to as low as 20c/kg sends a very misleading message to consumers regarding the costs, risks and skills associated with this sector.”

He pointed out the gross hypocrisy of this practice in light of M&S’s stated commitment to supporting the sector, “It is ironic that in the M&S ‘Farming for the Future’ programme they refer to sustainability and ethical standards. It begs the question as to what is ethical and sustainable about these predatory pricing tactics?”

The President also added that he was disappointed at the lack of support for Irish growers by M&S as he remarked at the number of vegetable lines in the store which were non-Irish.

Joe Healy said the Grocery Goods regulations introduced in 2016 totally neglected to address unsustainable discounting, and he re-iterated IFA’s call on the Enterprise Minister, Heather Humphreys T.D. to address this issue immediately.

Ahead of the two biggest shopping weekends of the year, IFA President Joe Healy has warned retailers against discounting fresh produce in the run-up to Christmas.

“Using farm produce as a tool to drive footfall undermines Irish production and the financial viability of specialist growers and producers. Farmers have invested hugely in their businesses to ensure sufficient supplies of fresh Irish produce for Christmas. Retailers have to respect this investment.”

Launching IFA’s Christmas Food Producers’ campaign on a farm in north Dublin that grows parsnips, cauliflower and cabbage, Joe Healy said it’s been a very tough year, with significant extra costs because of the drought conditions during the summer. “At the time, retailers supported growers because they understood the pressures that existed. We are asking for retailers to show similar backing between now & Christmas”.

“Let’s remember that when Ireland was hit by a snowstorm last March, supermarket shelves immediately ran out of milk and bread – two products that Irish consumers expect to be available.”

IFA has denounced the unsustainable discounting of fresh milk by retailers. Milk at 65c-67c/l is less than it costs to produce, process and put on the shelf.

Joe Healy said the Grocery Goods regulations introduced in 2016 totally neglected to address unsustainable discounting, and he re-iterated IFA’s call on the Enterprise Minister Heather Humphreys to introduce an independent retail regulator.

IFA Horticulture Chairman Paul Brophy has welcomed the recent launch of the 2019 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector by Minister Andrew Doyle. He said the scheme was essential for the continued development and competitiveness of the Irish horticulture sector.

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