Commenting on the latest report from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation on food prices, IFA President John Bryan said the dramatic swings in prices underline the importance of food security. “Food producers are experiencing better incomes after two very difficult years, which in turn came after historic highs in 2007. However, escalating fuel, feed and fertiliser costs are threatening the recovery and adding to volatility, which has the potential to undermine production as the European model of family farming cannot absorb the impact of a ‘boom-bust’ cycle.”
He said the food price increases are not being returned to primary producers, especially in the meat sector. “It is more urgent than ever for national Governments and the EU to secure greater equity in the food supply chain. They must ensure a fair proportion of the consumer price goes to food producers by controlling the dominance of retailers.”
John Bryan said, “In framing the CAP post-2013, the European Union must avoid a situation where there is any threat to our productive base. Pursuing trade deals that would undermine food production in Europe, at a time when it can meet the growing global demand, would be very short-sighted. A Mercosur deal that allows a flood of beef imports from South America would be very damaging for Europe’s sustainable agricultural production.”
Today’s report refers to weather-related problems in Canada, Australia and Russia. Mr Bryan said, “Europe has the capacity to increase its supply of safe, sustainable food to mitigate the effects of global factors such as an expanding population and lower crop yields elsewhere. Here in Ireland, the Food Harvest 2020 report has identified an increase of 50% in food exports. Safeguarding our productive base must be a key principle for our negotiators in talks about the future of the CAP.”
Concluding, the IFA President said policymakers must heed the warning signals contained in the FAO index and implement measures that recognise the important role that food production in Ireland and Europe can play.