IFA not ruling out protesting if prices continue to fall

IFA President Joe Healy has not ruled out the organisation protesting later this year, in light of poor producer prices.

Speaking at the lFA pre-budget submission, he said that tax reliefs and tackling input prices are only part of the solution to poor farm incomes, but IFA would not rule out protesting if necessary.

“We are always examining what is the best and most advantageous thing to do, whether it is dialogue or taking stronger action.”

He said there had been a quick rush by beef processors to pull prices back by 20c/kg, when the currency exchange rate only justified a cut of 7c/kg.

He also said that IFA is keeping the pressure on dairy processors to ensure they keep prices up. “Work by IFA has reduced dairy cuts to a minimum.”

Healy said that farm margins are not good at the moment, but IFA is tackling farming costs such as fertiliser costs and the cost of finance, which he said are two major costs for farmers.

Tariffs on fertiliser, he said, are costing Irish farmers €50m to €70m and it is the second highest input cost to farmers.

“Finance is the other big cost to Irish farmers.” He said farmers in other European countries, such as Belgium, are able to avail of loans at 2-3% lower than Irish farmers.

The IFA has protested in recent years over the price farmers receive for their produce, mainly at beef processors gates and supermarkets. In 2014, the IFA held a number of protests, including 48-hour protest outside factory gates, weeks after a 24-hour protest. The move was in response to a €350/head price gap between UK and Irish beef cattle prices.

At the time, the protest was criticised as being ill-timed – as beef prices were beginning to pick up and the fact the IFA chose to hold a protest over a bank holiday weekend.

The beef price difference went to €350 in March 2015, but the organisation did not take to the picket line.

Earlier this year the IFA took to the picket line at Slaney Meats, over a proposed 50% stake the Goodman-owned ABP is looking to buy, if approved by the EU competition authority.