We need to find a mechanism to protect family farm units, according to IFA President Eddie Downey.

Speaking on Newstalk this morning, Downey said that there has been a worldwide drop in commodity prices and that it is having a huge effect on our farmers.

“Political interference, such as the Russian ban, is having a huge effect on our pig farmers. There is very little being traded on the world markets.

“We need to find a mechanism to protect family farm units. There is seven billion people on the planet, which will go to nine billion and we need to feed them,” he said.

Downey also spoke about the struggle that grain farmers are going through at the moment.

“Grain farmers are used to up and down prices, they are now three years in a row selling their product below the cost of production.

“They’re hedging at a low price and they have to ride out the market.”

Looking at the current issues in the dairy sector, the IFA President said that we are operating in a strange situation.

“We had a limit on milk yet the rest of the world could expand at whatever it wanted. Quotas are not the reason for the collapse of milk prices.

There is an oversupply of milk on the market. Traders from China have stood off the market, they’re not buying milk.

“The current price of milk is now around 25/26c/L, that’s break-even point for Irish farmers and EU farmers are also losing a lot of money at the moment.

“We’ve seen a drop in dairy farmers, the number is now at a sustainable level but we’d hope to see the numbers rise again.”

Downey said that the European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan is in a key position.

“There is an emergency meeting next Monday, they need to look at the intervention system. It needs to rise a good bit above 21c/L.

“We’re asking for a mechanism to be put in place to support prices; we’re looking at an important industry with 300,000 jobs.

“We can’t continue to produce that product and lose money on it,” he said.