Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan has said he will be asking Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to pull a taskforce together to come up with solutions to “rocketing” feed, fuel and fertiliser prices.
When asked by the Irish Farmers Journal at the association's AGM what priority issues the IFA wants the Taoiseach and Minister to address, Cullinan said: “We’ve seen feed fuel and fertiliser prices rocketing in recent months and a number of key sectors are in crisis already.
“We need to deal with that immediately and I will be asking the Minister today to pull a taskforce together as soon as possible to come up with solutions.
"First of all, any margins that are coming to everyone in the supply chain, that we get as much as possible back to primary producers. We need the banks to work hand in hand with producers as well, so that cashflow on farms is maintained.”
He also said that food inflation is necessary to pass back a price that will cover primary producers' escalating costs.
“The other side is that for years the price of food hasn’t improved at retail level. We’re clearly saying that because of where costs have gone, the price of food has to go up, we have to see food inflation to cover our costs."
“We need regulation around this as well. The Minister has committed to bringing primary legislation through the Dáil to put a food regulator in place. We need to see that happening now in the first quarter of the year,” he said.
In relation to the fraught relationship between Government and the IFA, particularly over CAP and Cullinan’s declaration in Merrion Square at November’s IFA protest that the Government was not listening to farmers, he said the IFA’s job is to protect their farmers’ incomes and last year was a difficult year in terms of CAP reform negotiations.
“We were also dealing with COVID-19, meetings were online, it was difficult. We’ll have our issues with Government, but we’re realistic at the end of the day.
“It’s a new year, there’s a lot of challenges there and obviously we’re all very concerned about climate change and we’ll play our role.
"The only way we can find solutions is all the stakeholders working hand in hand and that’s what we will look for support from the Taoiseach for,” he said.