Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has said that farming families and horticultural suppliers are facing into a year of unprecedented price cuts as producers of fruit and vegetables are being forced to sell their produce at prices as low as five cent a kilo.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after he met with a deputation of horticultural protestors who have travelled to Leinster House to highlight the scale of the difficulties which are being experienced by rural suppliers and farming families:
“There is real and genuine suffering being inflicted on these families and suppliers as they are caught up in the aggressive price wars that are occurring between the major supermarket suppliers.
Indeed it is not only fruit and veg suppliers but also poultry breeders who are being financially penalised. No other industry would be expected to take this level of reduction in the price of the produce. More to the point it is extremely unsustainable both for the supplier and the consumer to have this kind of situation continue.
If farmers do not receive a fair price for their goods then their capacity to continue to produce at the necessary levels will be seriously compromised. This in turn will eventually lead to a major price hike for the ordinary consumer. It is therefore in everyone’s interests that a more fair and equitable pricing system is arrived at as a matter of great urgency.”
Farming organisations have pointed out that it is unforgiveable at this critical time for growers, and when consumers are willing to pay a realistic price for Irish produce, that a price war between the retailers should denigrate the value and the work of a sector of Irish farming that is already under pressure due to rising costs and downward pressure on prices.
“I am calling on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to intervene directly with Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton who has promised on a number of occasions that we would see legislation approved in terms of a Code of Practice for retailers and suppliers being brought forward by this Government. Like a lot of other issues unfortunately I understand that it is has still has not come before Cabinet. The pricing of products should be based on actual costs, so that every link in the production chain receives a fair compensation for labour and invested capital. to achieve that we need an Independent Assessors office to be established. This is a fair and reasonable position that I hope will be accepted by Government as soon as possible” concluded Deputy McGrath.