IFA president Tim Cullinan is calling on all retailers to ensure that they are selling Bord Bia Quality Assured Irish pigmeat.

“Farmers are concerned about increased costs of production over the past 12 months, and the volume of imported pigmeat on shelves across the country,” he said.

“In the lead up to Christmas, it’s essential that Quality Assured hams are available. Retailers cannot be discounting ham at the time of year when the demand is highest among consumers.”

Cullinan said that a substantial price increase from retailers needs to be passed back through processors to farmers to cover the massive increase in feed costs.

IFA pig committee chair Roy Gallie said: “Pig farmers have had a very challenging year, with rising feed costs and reductions in pig prices. Some farmers are reporting a net loss of €45/kg per pig, which is completely unsustainable.”

Farming is a business activity and pig farmers will not stay in operation unless they can make a profit

Pig farmers who are home millers of feed and exposed to current markets are reporting cost increases of over €90/t on this month last year. This is a feed cost increase of 30c/kg deadweight alone, but all other major costs are increasing considerably too – electricity, gas and oil and labour and transport. Huge losses are being taken on farms, with little respite in sight for producers.

Tim Cullinan pictured with senator Regina Doherty at the IFA’s protest outside Leinster House in October, highlighting the threat faced by the horticulture sector as a result of needing to import peat.

“Farming is a business activity and pig farmers will not stay in operation unless they can make a profit. We are calling on consumers to buy Bord Bia Irish produce in your weekly shop and support Irish farmers,” Roy Gallie said.

IFA president Tim Cullinan has welcomed a bill to recommence the harvesting of horticultural peat, which was published in the Seanad last week.

The bill seeks to introduce a single step system for the licensing of horticultural peat harvesting. It will be instrumental in helping ease the pressure on the horticulture industry, he said.

Cullinan acknowledged the efforts of Senator Regina Doherty and Senator Robbie Gallagher in bringing it forward.

Importing peat will have lasting consequences for the sector

IFA Hardy Nursery chair Val Farrell said that as it stands, the future of the horticulture sector is in jeopardy, as the industry is left with no alternative but to import peat from the Baltic regions for the domestic market.

“Importing peat will have lasting consequences for the sector. Already, it has resulted in hugely increased costs. This in turn will have a real impact on the competitiveness of Ireland’s sustainable horticulture sector,” he said.

The Government must now work together to put an end to this travesty

Along with the carbon footprint associated with transport, Baltic peat can shrink at twice the rate of Irish peat, thus emitting more carbon.

The final report from the peat consultation group is still outstanding. It was received by Minister Noonan over a month ago. The IFA is calling for this report to be published immediately.

“The Government must now work together to put an end to this travesty. This bill, once enacted, will have a positive impact on the sector, help protect jobs and put an end to the importation of peat. All political parties must support the bill and ensure it is enacted without delay,” he said.