New IFA chief accuses big retailers of greed

 

THE IRISH consumer’s help is to be enlisted by the new president of the Irish Farmers Association, John Bryan, to secure a better deal for farmers from multiple retailers which he accused of corporate greed.

Taking over as 13th president of the organisation yesterday, he said the supermarket war for market share between major discounters had decimated farming incomes while the multiples protected margins and profits.

“This is daylight robbery and an affront to any fair sense of corporate responsibility. This corporate greed and contempt for the men and women who produce our food must be addressed,” he told the association’s agm in Bluebell, Dublin.

Mr Bryan, who took over from the outgoing president, Pádraig Walshe, said help from the consumer and media was essential to point out the prices being paid meant many farmers would not be able to continue to produce at below cost.

He said a small price rise in the market place and a reduction in the profit margin of retailers would mean a realistic price for farmers and help secure jobs in rural areas. “Politicians at home and in Europe must rebalance the food marketing chain through legislation if necessary to ensure that farm families can get a viable income from the marketplace.”

He announced the setting up of a retailer, processor and consumer relations product team within the IFA and said he would be meeting the various parties involved as quickly as he could to see a resolution to the problems facing farming families.

Mr Bryan said his priorities were to reverse the fall in farm incomes and get a product price rise across all sectors, reduce bureaucracy, farm costs and ensure the new Rural Environment Protection Scheme payments were adequate and the protection of the Single Farm Payment.

He called on the Government to back agriculture in the future as it can and will contribute to Ireland’s economic recovery. It had to continue to reduce costs and support the vital schemes which were so important to the sector.

He said he had detected at Government and EU level a reality of the importance of agriculture for job creation and provision of food.

On the dairy sector, Mr Bryan said milk could not be continued to be produced at 22 cent per litre and he challenged the processors and the Irish Dairy Board to return a break-even price of 28 cent per litre and more if the market improvement is sustained.

He challenged the Irish food board and processors to put forward a plan to put Irish beef at the top of the European price league as the Scottish processors and marketers had done. Cattle prices had to rise immediately.

Sheep prices had to be maintained and the €18 million obtained for the sector from the EU released.

In the pig sector he would seek more sensible EPA licensing arrangements and an end to mislabelling of products to mislead consumers. He also said it was up to the Government to protect the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap).