The Irish Beef and Lamb Association (IBLA) has called on Irish retailers to follow the lead of their British counterparts in supporting farmers as input costs rise.
The farming organisation noted that some retailers in the UK have taken “pro-active steps” to ensure primary producers are protected and insulated against rising production costs.
Earlier this month, Waitrose announced a support scheme worth up to £16 million (almost €18 million) for its British pig farmers.
It will cover the full cost of rearing and producing pigs, including labour, feed and fuel.
On Monday (May 16), Tesco confirmed funding of £10 million (nearly €12 million) for UK pig farmers, as the pork industry continues to face challenges relating to increases in on-farm costs.
“Waitrose are increasing returns to farmers because they have realised that without a stable and viable income for farmers, their in-store product range will collapse,” an IBLA spokesperson said.
“Farmers have no more left to give, it’s approaching a point for drastic measures for them,” they added.
“The significant cost increases on Irish cattle and sheep farms will also have to be addressed by the Irish processing and retail industries.
“It is now time that they considered the key part of the supply chain for once, the primary producers of food, and insulate the farmers so that a profitable margin is passed back to them,” the spokesperson said.
IBLA said that Irish cattle and sheep producers will not take any more risks while processors and retailers take the bulk of the profits.
“EU subsidies and exchequer top-ups are merely life support mechanisms for the farming industry.
“UK farmers don’t have that support any longer and the industry has had to realise that without farmers, they actually have nothing, so they finally have come out to protect farmers and themselves,” the IBLA spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, the group has welcomed a move by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) to strengthen the rules for sheep imported into Ireland.
The animals are now required to retain their identification tags from the country of origin, which will improve identification and traceability.
IBLA said that this is a step to ensure that the premium Irish sheep and lamb production system is further protected from imports, which are outside our traceability systems.