Farmers will not tolerate any reduction in the margin they receive, as the retail price wars intensify, Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) poultry chair Nigel Sweetnam has said.

His comments come as some supermarkets slashed their prices in the first week of the new year.

“Supermarkets are demanding premium product at world commodity prices, with little or no regard to producers' or processors' costs of production, which are still substantially higher than the last time we were in negotiations.

“We have to be paid properly,” he said.

Any reduction in farmers' margins will inevitably lead to farmers going out of business, as has already happened in the vegetable selector, he warned.

No tolerance

“It will not be tolerated. We will take whatever steps are required to ensure the survival of family farms that are producing quality, affordable and healthy food in the most sustainable manner.

“At a time of increasing costs, it is neither realistic nor acceptable to ask farmers to work for nothing, particularly as poultry farmers have such huge investments in buildings and facilities,” he said.

Earlier this week, IFA president Tim Cullinan said that the idea that farmers can afford to take a lower price flies in the face of higher input costs.

“The food chain cannot survive if relentless pressure is piled on those who produce the food,” he said.

The IFA president added that retailers cannot use their dominant position in the food chain to reduce farmers’ margins and not their own, stating that the imbalance in power in the food supply chain is something the new Agri-Food Regulator must investigate.