Broiler production remains steady at 2 million birds per week, and the three poultry processing plants have managed the Covid-19 restrictions without any disruption to throughput. While demand for chicken did experience significant surge in retail demand following restriction introductions in March, this has been offset by the falloff in foodservice sales. While Ireland exported around €330 million worth of poultry meat in 2019, mainly to the UK, we are still an importer of chicken fillets, that largely went to the foodservice and the butcher trade. The domestic production of 100 million broiler birds per annum should be safeguarded by the close links that the main retailers have with Bord Bia quality assured product. The risk posed by Avian Influenza (AI) remains a threat to the entire sector and IFSA reminds all farmers to maintain the highest standards of biosecurity.
Following 10 confirmed outbreaks of AI, in the Co Monaghan region, circa 500,000 laying hens were culled, at farmers own expense, with no compensation. This has left a shortfall of eggs in the Irish market. The increase in retail demand combined with this shortfall has created a perfect storm of sorts. The main egg packers are importing eggs, mainly from the UK and some from continental Europe to supply retail contracts. In spite of this demand and short supply, farmers have thus far failed to receive any price increase. IFA has been in contact with all retailers regarding the urgent issues facing all poultry farmers, egg producers in particular. The current situation where the entire risk due to non-notifiable disease such as AI is unsustainable, and IFA will continue to lobby the industry and retailers along with the DAFM to seek some form of risk sharing going forward.
Following numerous meetings held between an industry stakeholder group and DAFM regarding the need to compensate farmers affected by AI, the DAFM has failed to respond with any funding proposals.
The priority for the entire poultry sector is to maintain production, broiler processing and egg packing, while adhering to all HSE guidelines. The very nature of the supply chain of both broilers and eggs does not allow for any time delays, and sales are matched with production, months ahead. It is vital that the three chicken slaughter plants remain fully operational, which they have to date.
The IFA poultry Chairman will continue to lobby the DAFM to respond positively to requests for compensation for AI affected poultry farmers.
Egg Price Campaign
The IFA is in talks with stakeholders to ensure adequate remuneration for all costs and risks borne by commercial and free-range egg producers is returned from the marketplace.
The Minister for Agriculture, M Creed announced in February of this year that he would increase the investment limit from €80,000 up to €200,000 for the PPIS (Pig & Poultry investment scheme). It is a priority for the IFA that this is implemented as soon as possible.