Pig and poultry farmers have taken to the picket line at Aldi and Lidl stores in Cavan town today (Thursday) to highlight their anger and mounting concern for the future of the two sectors.
The IFA – which is spearheading the protests – has stressed that retailers that producers are facing further “significant” cost increases in both feed and non-feed costs.
Protesters have expressed anger over a failure to return price increases to farmers.
The farm group has warned that if not addressed immediately, consumers will not find Irish eggs on the shop shelf in “the near future”.
Pig and chicken producers are joining to support the egg sector, but also to highlight their ongoing losses at farm level.
Egg producers facing closure
Its poultry vice chairperson, Brendan Soden, said:
“Egg producers face closure because of the failure of discounters to give a fair return to farmers. It is almost 12 months since we began our national campaign to secure a viable income for producers.”
“The supply of eggs is in jeopardy if a further 2c/egg is not ring-fenced directly for egg producers.”
He stated that producers are “strongly” considering not restocking their farms at this stage.
“In 2012, a half dozen free-range eggs sold for €2.19. Today it is €1.89, a reduction of 15%.”
“This year alone, agricultural inputs are up 40.2%; consumer goods are up 9.1%, and food price inflation is up 6.8%, according to the CSO. “
“This simply does not add up to securing a supply of Irish produce into the future,” he added.
Chicken producers have been campaigning for cost recovery for a year, including a current requirement for a further 15c per chicken to be passed back to producers.
This, protesters outlined, has yet to be fully implemented.
The group’s poultry chairman, Nigel Sweetnam, said it is a “scandal” that an initial requirement of 15c per chicken has not been delivered to all chicken farmers, and now egg producers are facing closure.
Supporting and securing the future of farmers and their economic viability needs to be taken very seriously, he outlined.
“Farmer frustration is at boiling point following several unsatisfactory engagements with retailers. Action must be taken immediately, or supplies cannot be guaranteed,” he said.
Meanwhile, IFA pigs chairman, Roy Gallie, stated that losses “mounting continuously” on pig farms for the last 400 days are “completely unstainable”.
“The average size family farm, even having received government aid, has an accumulated debt of €380,000.”
“Primary producers receive only 15% of the retail price of ham, so I am calling on all retailers to pass back a larger percentage to producers immediately to ensure pig farm survival,” he concluded.