More than 300 farmers from all over Ireland carried out a peaceful walk-through of the Portlaoise branches of Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi and Superquinn yesterday.
IFA president John Bryan said he wants to send a message to supermarkets that the impact of increasing on-farm costs like feed, fertiliser and fuel could leave average farm incomes this year at less than half the average industrial wage. “Processors and farmers can pass on more of their margin, because if farming and agriculture is to be sustained, we have to get a reasonable price for food.”
Over 30 pig producers went out of business this year, and Mr Bryan said that sector was selling below the cost of production during that time.
“We need retail regulation, we need a fair price and a code of conduct that guarantees we will not be selling below the cost of production,” he said.
The Government had “rolled over” to public sector unions on the issue of allowances, he said, calling on farmers to support a national protest in Dublin on Oct 9.
National livestock chairman Henry Burns reminded farmers they’d seen pictures of farmers on supermarket packaging and posters. “Those same farmers are working below the cost of production,” he said, adding if supermarkets want to use farmers to advertise products, “they will have to pay up”.
Farmer Liam O’Connell said he was glad to make the journey from Fermoy to show the distress farmers are feeling.
“Unless some help comes from somewhere, this is a dying industry as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “We don’t want to put up prices for consumers, we just want a fair slice of the cake.”
Roy Gallie, a second-generation Kildare pig farmer, said the price of pigmeat has increased 1c per year to €1.75c since he started farming 30 years ago, but that is not reflected the €15 per kilo price for rashers paid by the consumer. “But feed has doubled in price since this time last year.”
None of the store managers were prepared to comment yesterday.