Reacting to the Bord Bia Export Performance and Prospects Report, IFA President Joe Healy pointed out that it is mainly Irish farmers who have borne the pain of sterling weakness through lower prices, particularly for beef and mushrooms.
IFA estimates that beef farmers have taken a hit of €150m in price cuts in 2016 as a result of the sterling devaluation. This decrease largely occurred following the UK referendum decision in June and the sharp devaluation in sterling. Joe Healy said for farmers, this meant a drop of €100/head on prime beef cattle in the autumn, with a knock on impact for store and weanling producers.
Mushroom growers have seen the price paid to them fall by an estimated €15m over the last 12 months, in many cases wiping out their entire margins.
Joe Healy said the figures also highlight the inability of processors and exporters to secure price increases from retailers as a result of the decline in sterling. This situation underlines the excessive control of retailers over the food chain and their power to dictate lower prices back to processors and farmers, instead of paying higher prices to compensate for sterling weakness.
The IFA President emphasised that farmers were taking these losses as a direct result of the Brexit referendum, which was a political decision totally outside their control. This cannot be ignored by politicians here and in Europe.