Ministers must signal to the public that the transition to low-emissions farming is going to make food more expensive, ICMSA president Pat McCormack has said.

The ICMSA has said that farmers will be irritated by sentiments expressed by Minister of State Pippa Hackett at her attendance at a recent global forum for food and agriculture.

McCormack said: “No one doubts the absolute importance of the environmental dimension to the minister's brief. It was regrettable that her release seemed to omit completely any mention of farmer income.

“Prices paid by consumers need to rise and we will see the end of the cheap food policy that has dictated farming and food in Europe for decades.”

Environmental cost

The ICMSA warns that a rise in food costs for consumers comes as an inevitable consequence of the lowering volumes that the transition to low emissions is going to involve.

The association president said that the present system of working artificially low prices back to the farmer will be ending.

McCormack continued: “Someone is going to have to break the news to the corporate retailers that the scale and nature of this transition is so enormous and profound that everyone is going to have to accept changes in the price of food.

“Thanks to the dominance of supermarkets, people have become used to underpaying for their food. That’s going to end as food prices begin to reflect the economic and environmental cost of production."