Farmers shouldn’t have to blockade or protest in order to get a fair price for their products, Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) poultry chair Nigel Sweetnam has said.

He said the new agri food regulator must address the real problem and that the use of poultry and other food as loss leaders has already put many farmers out of business.

The IFA cannot and will not stand by and let it continue, he warned.

“This practice creates the expectation from the consumer that the core items in their shopping basket should come at a very cheap, and unsustainable, price.

“Farmers are price takers and we are calling on the Minister [for Agriculture] to show true leadership on this,” he said.

Sweetnam’s comments come following a September's week-long poultry farmer protest, where farmers protested at Aldi and Lidl in Cavan town over egg prices.

The protests saw deliveries to the supermarkets blocked for six days, with shelves left empty of certain foods, including vegetables, milk and eggs.

Cost challenges

“We do sympathise with financially-challenged consumers, but it must be recognised that we as food producers also face the same cost challenges,” Sweetnam added.

Sweetnam also said farmers must get their fair slice of the retail price so they can continue producing food sustainably into the future.

“The Government's spend of €4m on a regulator must protect farmers and primary food producers. The taxpayers of this country deserve nothing less,” he said.

Retailers and processors could be fined up to €10m by the new regulator if they are found to be engaging in unfair trading practices with suppliers.