Monday, December 11, 2023
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HomeDairy'Food prices are going to go up’
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Food prices are going to go up’

ICMSA president, Pat McCormack, discusses food price inflation returning as climate change measures take effect.

Farmers would have noted the comments of various government spokespersons around recent climate-related legislation and measures with curiosity and what was a familiar sinking feeling connected to the complete absence of reference to the contributions the consumers or corporate retailers will have to make.

We keep waiting for anyone in a senior position in the Irish government to inform the Irish public that an absolutely certain consequence of the transition to low emissions farming and primary food production is an increase in price to the consumers.

That is indisputable and inevitable, and it has been from the very start of this process.

Food price inflation

Why are we still waiting for a senior government figure – Taoiseach, Tanaiste or indeed the Minister – to break the news to the Irish consumers that this fundamental and enormously expensive shift to lower emissions is:

  • Going to have to be paid for by everyone;
  • Is going to mean the speedy end of the ‘cheap food’ policy?”

Farmers were entitled to be cynical about the official reluctance just to point this obvious consequence out.

This has moved well past puzzling, and it is becoming very suspicious.

There is a persistent delusion amongst the Irish public that all the change we are talking about and planning is somehow ‘out there and someone else’s business’ and will happen without our artificially cheap food prices being affected.

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Why is the Irish government so afraid of telling Irish consumers – and the retail corporations who completely dominate our food supply chain – that there is going to be changes and charges involved in this transition all the way along the line. And everyone is going to have to pay.

Real economic and environmental costs of the food

It was difficult to get away from the idea that those politicians who were so fearless and forthright when it came to telling farmers what to do become very nervous indeed when it came to explaining to the retailers and consumers certain unpalatable consequences of policy.

At some stage, someone is going to have to break the bad news to the Irish public that food prices are going to go up.

I am sure that the politicians are not looking forward to that conversation. But it has to happen, and it should have started by now.

If people are as committed to the new environmental reality as they keep telling the pollsters they are, then they will have no problem accepting that very shortly, they are going to have to pay the real economic and environmental costs of the food they consume.

It will be a shock initially because they have been systematically underpaying for their food for decades. But someone is going to have to pay, and the farmers can’t, shouldn’t and won’t any longer.

Food inflation is coming back. We are not doing the public any favours by pretending that that is not the case.

Why this deafening silence on a completely obvious consequence of a policy that we have already begun?

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