Vegetable growers are struggling to survive, says IFA

Vegetable growers are in crisis due to a combination of continuing low farm gate prices and the ongoing adverse weather conditions.

That’s the view of the Irish Farmers’ Association, which has called for an immediate review on the farm-gate prices being paid to producers.

Field vegetable and protected crops chairman Matt Foley said producers are supplying vegetables at a loss.

He said exceptional levels of rainfall and mild weather have led to issues on all winter field vegetable crops.

Waterlogging and higher disease levels have resulted in crop losses running up to 30% across all lines.

In some instances entire farm businesses are in jeopardy, he said. Mr Foley said this crisis was inevitable and had been flagged by the IFA to retailers for some time now.

“Continuing price wars among the retailers has resulted in unsustainable farm-gate prices,” he said.

“Growers have limped along with poor returns and survived only due to exceptional yields and recent benign winters.

“However, the current crisis was always a question of when — and not if — it would occur.

"Existing producer returns include no accommodation for natural yield reductions and leave no leeway for reinvestment in farm businesses.”

He called for an immediate review on the farm-gate prices being paid to producers, who are supplying at a loss.

Growers are making decisions on planting programmes and many are debating the viability of proceeding at current farm-gate prices.

“Input costs continue to spiral upwards, including the recent increase in the minimum wage, while farm-gate prices continue to decrease,” he said.

Mr Foley said retailers must be genuine about supporting Irish produce and restore a viable margin for the primary producer.

In September last year, the IFA addressed this subject at an emergency meeting of the EU council of agriculture ministers meeting in Brussels.

The IFA called upon the EU to address the basic issues of imbalance in the food-supply chain, and the severe income pressure on primary producers from farm-gate prices below the cost of production in most sectors, including dairy, grain, beef, pigmeat, lamb, fruit, and vegetables.


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