We have seen the price paid for milk, beef, grain and lamb all increasing in the face of soaring input prices. At this point, indications are that in most cases the increase in output prices should protect profits. But this should not distract from the urgent need to introduce mechanisms that protect farm families from the increased financial risk to which they are now exposed. We only have to look to the pig sector and those farmers who are tied into forward milk price contracts to see the extent of this exposure.

Those wanting to understand the sheer financial hardship facing pig farmers should listen to our podcast with pig farmer Michael Monagle at www.ifj.ie/podcast or read the interview here. The pace at which external factors can now not just undermine the economic viability of the enterprise but also erode equity within the business through spiralling debt levels is frightening.