Letter to the editor: Latest deductions show need for legislation on farm gate prices

Farmers For Action (FFA) has been receiving complaints from pig farmers supplying Cranswick Country Foods at Cullybackey (Co. Antrim) in terms of prices in the aftermath of their Covid-19 shut down. 

All the complaints have two things in common – fines per pig of £26 made up of £15 to pay staff overtime on nominated Saturdays to cover the company’s extra overtime costs in order to catch up with the backlog – a further £11 to cover the suspension of their Chinese export licence for four weeks minimum due to Covid-19. 

The second complaint many farmers have is not being told about these deductions [referencing] the backlog of pigs until their remittance arrives.

It must be great to be a processor, in that when you need any additional income that you automatically dip into this honey pot that has been the farmers pocket up until now. 

The farmer on the other hand has been virtually powerless to do anything about it for decades. Normal business practice is to pass your costs on, not come back to your suppliers – in this case the farmers – to constantly top up your profits! 

Agriculture is an essential industry

It must be remembered this is about agriculture not just any old industry. This is the industry whose primary producers have kept the people fed through two world wars, all the years in-between and now through Covid-19! 

Therefore, the logic in a legislation bill, now ready for Stormont, that would end this endless practice for farmers producing food of all types across Northern Ireland, is sound. 

The bill, if successful, would return farmers a minimum of the cost of production inflation linked plus a margin for their produce and as a result create 10-20,000 jobs for starters followed by four times that down the line.

FFA would like to say a big thank you to Cranswick Country Foods for making the necessity for legislation on farm gate prices so very clear for all to see by their recent actions towards their trusting top quality family farmer suppliers!

From William Taylor, FFA coordinator, Northern Ireland