Fair trade begins at home - farmers protest against supermarket power

Members of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA ) in Mayo turned out in force last Saturday to demonstrate against supermarket power and the impact it is having on farming businesses. Leaflets outlining the main concerns of farmers were distributed to consumers outside the Tesco store in Claremorris.

“All we are looking for is fair trade for Irish farmers,” said ICSA Mayo chairman Cathal O’Reilly. “Over 70 per cent of the grocery retail sector in Ireland is shared among just three companies and the power they wield in controlling the prices paid to farmers and other suppliers is huge.

“We want to highlight to consumers that farmers are getting paid less for their produce than 20 years ago and the prices being paid for milk, beef, and lamb are currently below the cost of production. Farmers get less than one third of the final retail price for beef and lamb and dairy farmers are receiving 20c/l for milk which is being sold for up to €1.20/l. This can’t continue or otherwise there won’t be any farmers left in this country.”

“The cost of feeding a bullock this winter is €3 for each kilo of meat the animal produces, yet on average, farmers are getting €2.80/kg when the animal is slaughtered,” he added. “It’s a simple fact that farmers can’t continue to produce food if the price being paid for the end product is below cost. We believe that if consumers can see the difference between farm-gate prices and what they are being charged they will start to question how this is possible.

“We have a simple message for supermarkets today — farmers can’t afford to feed you any more. All any farmer wants is a fair share of the retail price so that we can stay farming and look after our families. If the prices that are actually being paid to the farmer were displayed on supermarket shelves alongside the prices being paid by the consumer we are sure that consumers would really start to question the power of supermarkets. Supermarkets can expect a winter of discontent,” he concluded.

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