Farmers' protest leads to empty supermarket shelves 

There is no end in sight for the protests if retailers do not commit to the price increases that farmers are seeking, the IFA has said.
Farmers' protest leads to empty supermarket shelves 

The shelves in Aldi Cavan which lie empty due to a six-day IFA protest. The farmers are looking for a 2c increase on each egg purchased by the store. Picture: Lorraine Teevan

Farmers have entered day six of protesting at retailers in Co Cavan.

According to the Irish Farmers’ Association, which is leading the protests, the spirit of those at the picket lines remains strong.

Pig, poultry, and egg producers involved have targeted Aldi and Lidl in Cavan town, to highlight their mounting concern for the future of the sectors.

Farmers continue to block the entrance for deliveries at both the Aldi and Lidl stores, leading to shop shelves currently being empty of fresh produce.

Pig, poultry, and egg producers involved have targeted Aldi and Lidl in Cavan town, to highlight their mounting concern for the future of the sectors. Picture: Irish Farmers' Association Twitter page
Pig, poultry, and egg producers involved have targeted Aldi and Lidl in Cavan town, to highlight their mounting concern for the future of the sectors. Picture: Irish Farmers' Association Twitter page

IFA poultry vice chairman Brendan Soden said that there is no end in sight for the protests if retailers do not commit to the price increases that farmers are seeking.

Irish eggs in jeopardy

Mr Soden said that if a 2c per egg is not ringfenced directly for egg producers, the supply of Irish eggs will be in jeopardy.

He said that a price increase has been offered by egg packers to farmers - but that it was only "a third of what farmers need".

Speaking from outside Lidl this afternoon, Mr Soden said that the retailers are "well aware of our situation and what we are looking for".

He added that entering the sixth day of farmers protesting outside retailers without substantial negotiations taking place is "reaching historical levels".

"If you see the shelves in these shops at the minute, it's a taste of the reality - if there are no farmers, that's what all shelves will look," Mr Soden told the Irish Examiner.

He said there has been "fantastic support" shown for farmers by members of the public they have engaged with over the last number of days, with "hundreds" signing a petition in support of the farmers' call.

"I don't think the retailers realise how willing the public is to pay that little bit more for eggs if they have to, or if there's enough of the cake there already for us, that we have to stand here to try and survive," Mr Soden continued.

"None of us want to be here, and it's not the customer we want to annoy, but we're being put into that situation that we have to.

"I've spoken to a lot of people here on the poultry side who are very heavily borrowed, and they're very worried not only that they'll go out of business, but they'll lose their farm and land because they can't pay the bank."

Ryan Corrigan (5), Brendan Soden IFA & egg producer Linda Dougal, Wicklow are among the protestors at Aldi Cavan where the IFA have picketed for four days, blocking all deliveries to the store leaving the shelves empty. The poultry farmers are seeking a 2c increase on each egg. Picture: Lorraine Teevan
Ryan Corrigan (5), Brendan Soden IFA & egg producer Linda Dougal, Wicklow are among the protestors at Aldi Cavan where the IFA have picketed for four days, blocking all deliveries to the store leaving the shelves empty. The poultry farmers are seeking a 2c increase on each egg. Picture: Lorraine Teevan

He said that farmers will be staying put at the two stores and continuing to block delivery access "until we can enter into meaningful negotiations".

Aldi has said that it is "extremely disappointed" by the IFA protest at its Cavan store.

A spokesperson said that Aldi has been "in active discussions with our egg suppliers for a period of weeks now, with a view to agreeing what would be a fourth price increase this year". 

“On Saturday [October 1], discussions advanced further when a price increase, which substantially exceeds what protesting farmers are seeking, was agreed with our egg suppliers.

“It is up to our egg suppliers, and those farmers with whom they have a commercial arrangement, to engage as to how this outcome is apportioned.

“Given this progress, the continued disruption of our Cavan store by a small number of farmers is reckless. 

"The blockade, which has prevented store deliveries, has caused real frustration among our customers. Frustrations we share. 

"Stock is not the problem, access is. Our supply trucks are loaded with Irish produce from our Irish suppliers ready to stock the shelves of our Cavan store. 

"Unfortunately, the blockades are preventing this."

A spokesperson for Lidl said they will not be commenting on the issue.  

Pig and chicken producers have been part of the protests to support the egg sector, and also to highlight their ongoing losses at farm level.

IFA pigs chairman Roy Gallie said the losses that are mounting continuously on pig farms for the last 400 days are "completely unsustainable".

He told the Irish Examiner that pig farmers are "the fall guys basically; everybody else's costs are whittled down to us because we’re simply price-givers and price-takers and have no control over either".

Food ombudsman

The IFA is calling for Government to establish a food ombudsman urgently.

In his speech at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis this past weekend, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue confirmed that he has commenced the recruitment process for the chief executive of the new Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri-Food Supply Chain. 

"The office will be up and running by the end of the year and will be an office with real teeth that will protect our farm families," Mr McConalogue said.

"I want those who are breaking the Unfair Trading Practices to be afraid of the office. It will shine a light on the sector.

"It will have real teeth. It will protect our farm families."

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