Over €35 million will be spent by Supermac’s on Irish produce this year according to the company’s managing director, Pat McDonagh.

But McDonagh has also issued a warning that farmers are currently being put under so much pressure that it may be difficult for the agri food sector to recover from it completely.

“Our €35 million spend on Irish produce is a very strong endorsement of the quality of produce on Irish farms,” McDonagh said.

But I believe that Irish farmers have seldom been under so much pressure.

“The uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the fodder crisis, prices being paid for product and a lack of cash flow are some of the biggest threats our farming communities have faced in several years,” he said.

“Our farming communities are one of the key pillars of Irish society and a vital part of the social fabric of the country. Regional Ireland needs a strong farming sector for many different reasons.”

In relation to the fodder crisis McDonagh said that any price increase that Supermac’s was being asked to pay for beef needed to be given directly to the farmer. “The fodder crisis means that farmers are in a very unique and challenging situation,” he said.

The price that Supermac’s is being asked to pay per kilo of beef is increasing year-on-year, yet the price being paid to the farmer is decreasing.

“Supermac’s will do its duty when it comes to supporting our farmers and we would ask that the factories do the same by passing the benefit of the increase on to farmers.

There are currently over 2,000 Irish farmers in negative equity and farm families are being targeted by vulture funds that are running riot throughout the country without anyone seeming to be able to control them, the Supermac’s chief contends.

“We have been in business for 40 years this year and have been working closely with Irish farmers for all that time.

Farmers that I speak to have seldom been in such a delicate situation and we need to be very careful that we don’t put Irish farm families under the kind of pressure that they can’t recover from.”

McDonagh said that the ability to source fresh, local produce was a key factor in the success of the company. “We are strongly committed to Irish farmers and the farming community in general,” he said.

“Since we started in Ballinasloe in 1978 we have always looked to local suppliers wherever possible, be that for farm produce or construction materials.

“We still have some of the same suppliers that we had 40 years ago and that depth of relationship and the trust built up over the years is key to the success.”