The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said that retailers and the government should listen to the comments made by President Michael D. Higgins at Bloom 2022.

During his official opening address at the Bord Bia festival in Dublin, the president pointed to the declining number of vegetable growers in Ireland and called for their needs to be addressed.

President Higgins told the crowds in the Phoenix Park about the impact of “damaging retail practices” on growers, including “produce being sold as loss leaders”.

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IFA president Tim Cullinan said the intervention by the Irish President on the practice by retailers of selling food at artificially low prices, which are often below cost, is very significant.

“The President is right to call this out. It diminishes the value of food in the eyes of consumers.

“It is destroying the horticulture sector and other sectors which are dependent on the domestic retail market,” Cullinan said.

The IFA president said that the government should listen to President Higgins’ comments and make the upcoming legislation as robust as possible.

“The Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill 2022 is currently going for pre-legislative scrutiny. The President’s comments should be heeded by the government in drafting the bill to ensure primary producers are protected,” he said.

“Retailers should also respond to the President’s comments,” Cullinan stated.

“Retailers like to tell us about their corporate responsibility programmes, but the reality is they use artificially-priced food as a loss leader to draw in footfall without consideration of the consequences,” the IFA president concluded.