Many frustrated farmers gathered outside Dunnes Stores on Monday in Cork and Monaghan to highlight their views on the impact of low-cost selling of food on famers.

Farmers explained how they are unable to survive in the pig, poultry and horticulture sectors with the ongoing increase in costs in the sector.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) poultry committee vice-chair Brendan Soden commented how farmers are just asking to cover the cost of production and are looking for a small rise of 15c for chickens and 2c for eggs to allow them to cover the rise of input cost.

Farmer views

Gillian Harte, broiler poultry farmer, Monaghan

Gillian Harte, broiler poultry grower from Co Monaghan.

“I’m here as I feel that the price to produce a chicken is outweighing what we are getting in return.

"I am new to the poultry industry and I’m finding it hard to compete with the ongoing rising costs in the sector.

"I feel that more people need to be aware of the time and energy that goes into rearing chickens into the finish product that customers see on their plates.”

Proinsias McKenna, broiler grower, Monaghan

“I have been protesting around supermarkets in Cavan and Monaghan to highlight the ongoing cost issues for our poultry and pig farmers.

"I am just asking for supermarkets to cover the cost of producing a chicken by increasing the price by [the] small amount of 15c for chickens and 2c for eggs."

Finian O'Harte, broiler grower, Monaghan

Finian O’ Harte, broiler grower from Manor Farms, Co Monaghan.

“I am here protesting to highlight that we need the extra money to survive in the industry to cover our input costs.

"If this does not change, I do not know if my family business at home can move forward to provide for the next generation of poultry farming."

Cian Maguire, Devenish Nutrition, Co Cavan

Cian Maguire from Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, representing the pig sector.

“I’m here with Devenish Nutrition to stand in solidarity with our customers who are struggling with the ongoing crisis there is in the pig industry.

"We would like to see the supermarkets and retailers to do their bit to support the pig and poultry sectors.

"It’s insulting for pig farmers who are receiving a lower price than the cost they put into producing the finished meat product.”

Cork protest

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at the Cork protest, IFA president Tim Cullinan, who was there with pig chair Roy Gallie and poultry chair Nigel Sweetnam, said: “Dunnes have continued to refuse to engage with us, so we will be escalating our protests if this continues.

“We want to be able to get around the table and come up with proposals that will enable the survival of the pig and poultry sectors who are dealing with an unprecedented increase in feed, energy and fertiliser costs.

“We're at the point where we need to negotiate proposals to ensure the survival of producers.”

Farmer views

Maurice O’Brien, Mitchelstown, Co Cork

Maurice O'Brien, Mitchelstown, Co Cork.

"We’re here because there’s an unprecedented rise in feed and energy prices in pigs. Feed is gone up roughly €100/t and pig price has actually fallen, so pig farmers are losing €35 to €38 per pig.

"We need more engagement with supermarkets so we can sell more pork and have extra shelf space and chicken farmers are in the same position and we need a bigger share of [the] overall price."

Warren McConnell, Carrigaline, poultry farmer

Warren McConnell, Carrigaline, Co Cork.

"We’re here essentially to raise awareness of what farmers will have to face in consistently poor prices on the shelf.

"We just want the customers to be aware that this affects families and businesses every day of the week.

"From different types of promotions that supermarkets have, it provides the picture to the customer that poultry is cheap. It certainly isn’t.

"We pride ourselves on our outstanding product that is certified at every level, either at Bord Bia or supermarket audit and we try and maintain the highest quality standards.

"And when you see birds in there for €3 or €4/bird, whatever promotion is on that week, it sinks your heart. The product is sold to be a cheap thing for customers to buy to get them into the supermarket.

"I would like an increase in the product that Irish farmers supply to the supermarket, so that the processor then can give us the margin we deserve. So that the processor then can give us the margin."

Edward Keane, Grange, Ardmore, Co Waterford

Edward Keane, Grange, Ardmore, Co Waterford.

"We’re here because our costs have increased and we’re getting nothing to cover the costs, so we want a price increase to cover those increased costs over the last 12 months.

"Namely, energy, bedding, labour, disinfectants and gas and oil in the energy side. We’re an intensive industry so we’re intensive cost-wise.

"We just want to get people to understand the situation we’re in. We know the consumer is facing cost increases as well.

"For people to come to this shopping centre, they’re all coming in cars. So the cost for them to get here has increased and so has our costs. So it’s just a case of cost recovery."

Dickie Norton, Ballingarry, Co Tipperary

Dickie Norton, Ballingarry, Co Tipperary.

"We’re here to protest about the low cost of bacon that’s supplied on shop shelves. We’re getting it at all sides at farm level, like labour and price of grain, and it’s hard to see where it’s going to all end up.

"I’d be hoping retailers would send back something to the producers to help support it. There’s lorry drivers, deliveries, people working on units, a lot of people employed through the industry.

"It’s one of the biggest exporters in agriculture here and it could end up going to be like the sugar beet, it might not be like it this month, but in the next few months, you could see people try to get out, but they might not be able to."