Irish food prices "are going to have to go up", according to Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan, who also accused the Government of "talking at farmers" rather than negotiating with them in good faith.
Data from the Central Statistics Office in recent months has shown production costs for farmers have been rising in double digit numbers on an annual basis, with agricultural output prices, often seen as a proxy for food prices, rising along similar levels.
“If we are in a situation now where our costs are increasing then it’s high time we had a discussion around all of this,” Mr Cullinan told RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday.
“Food prices are going to have to go up,” he said. “If production costs are going up, absolutely food costs are going to have to go up as well.
"Farmers cannot continue producing food at a lossmaking situation. If we look at the Teagasc figures, 30 per cent of farmers are viable at the moment. That's where we're at. It's very, very important that farmers can get a proper return from the market place."
Mr Cullinan also said visits by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to more than 30 marts over recent months did not amount to proper engagement with farmers.
“What we have been looking or all year is proper engagement from Government,” he said. “But what we got was not engagement, but the Minister talking at farmers.
“This was an exercise in the Minister talking at farmers, not negotiating with farmers and having proper engagement.
“If the Minister for Education was to decide that there was some new policy she was trying to get in, and instead of engaging with the teachers’ unions, she would decide to go around the country and speak to a number of teachers, I don’t think that would be allowed happen.”