Fianna Fail Agriculture Spokesman, Eamon O Cuiv has confirmed that the poor state of Irish farmgate prices will be a key debating point in the upcoming general election campaign.

“This issue will be addressed at two levels,” he said.

“In the first instance action needs to be taken from an EU perspective.   We export the vast bulk of our beef and lamb to the UK and the rest of Europe. And, in this regard, I have been encouraged by the recent soundings made by EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan.

“He seems committed to tackling the procurement policies of Europe’s supermarkets. This is in contrast to the lack of activity by Ireland’s agriculture minister Simon Coveney on what is a crucially important matter,” he said.

According to O Cuiv, the current CAP measures are not delivering the required level of support for farmers.

“And this is why it is so important to put pressure on the supermarkets so as to ensure that farmers get a bigger slice of the retail cake,” he said.

At a national level, much more has to be done to defend the interests of liquid milk producers and vegetable growers.

“There is strong evidence to show that these farmers are losing out as a result of the buying practices implemented by Irish supermarkets.  This is, probably, the clearest example of abuse identified to date within Ireland’s retail sector.

“It is an issue which the government must address as a matter of priority.”

O Cuiv believes that the general election will be held on Friday, February 26.

“It can’t happen before this date, as the government is awaiting the final report on the banking inquiry.

“But, given current circumstances, I would be surprised if the Taoiseach would opt for a date in March. This puts the February 26 date centre stage.”