Politics

Edwin Poots tells supermarkets ‘step up to the plate’ on farm pay for produce

Edwin Poots has known as on ‘supermarkets to step up to the plate’ and pay farmers extra for the meals they produce.

The Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs caretaker Minister used to be talking all through a breakfast he hosted at this 12 months’s Balmoral Show.

Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill, her birthday celebration colleague Conor Murphy, DUP MLAs Paul Givan and Gordon Lyons sat in combination on the tournament, which additionally integrated {industry} stakeholders, teachers and civil servants.

Mr Poots used his speech to focus on the “major squeeze” farmers, fishers and meals manufacturers are recently experiencing because of the “unprecedented rise in cost of energy, feed and fertiliser which simply cannot be absorbed by farm businesses”.

The DUP South Belfast MLA instructed the ones accrued he has written to shops to “voice my concerns” and has prompt George Eustice, UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to supply “financial assistance for UK farmers to get through this crisis”.

“If the economic viability of the primary production and domestic supplies of agricultural goods are to be sustained, we need supermarkets in particular to step up to the plate,” Minister Poots stated on Thursday.

“Our agriculture sector is currently facing financial pressures, future rising interest costs.

“Feed, fertiliser, fuel and other costs have risen 30%, 200%, 50% and 8% respectively from last year.

“Over the space of the year these prices saw an extra £556 million cost incurred by the sector, £136m per quarter which is more than the total outcome from farming of £501m in 2021.

“These calculations are based on current market developments and the outlook for the rest of the year is uncertain and potentially volatile.

“Unfortunately end markets for agricultural produce and food are currently responding too slowly to offset these rising costs causing a major squeeze in cashflows and also profitability.

“This is undermining confidence throughout the industry and will inevitably result in a contraction in production due to mounting losses if the situation is not corrected very soon.

“This correction must come in the form of increased farm-gate prices.

“I have written to retailers to voice my concerns regarding farm-gate prices for primary food producers.”Since it’s a UK-wide downside, Minister Poots stated he has additionally shared his issues with George Eustice, urging him to supply “financial assistance for UK farmers to get through this crisis”.

“The UK must prioritise food security and food supply security in going forward,” he endured.

“The notion that we can outsource our food production is neither sustainable or in the best interests of the people we serve.

“I am all too aware of the difficulties farmers, growers and our fishermen face – and the need to provide the industry with some confidence in the coming months.”

Caretaker Economy Minister Gordon Lyons spoke of the significance of NI’s agriculture {industry} to the broader financial system and the dep.’s 10X financial imaginative and prescient, with the newest DAERA figures suggesting it “was worth some £1.67 billion in 2020”.

“Recent increases in energy costs, linked to geopolitical volatility, clearly illustrates the need to accelerate the roadmap to energy decarbonisation and self-sufficiency,” he stated.

He additionally stated farmers, processors, shops and everybody else in agri-foods wish to paintings in combination to ship suggestions, comparable to an industry-led sustainability frame, defined in Sir Peter Kendall’s Independent Strategic Review of the Agri-Food sector.

‘All we would like is a good worth,’ say UFU

The Ulster Farmers’ Union just lately warned NI’s beef {industry} may well be “completely wiped out” if supermarkets don’t do extra to improve manufacturers.

Their feedback echoed identical calls from the National Pig Association.

UFU beef and bacon chair Glenn Cuddy stated: “We’ve been engaging with processors and retailers in a bid to get the prices paid to pig producers closer to the costs of production.

“Most recently, we met with Tesco who unlike the other retailers, were unable to discuss any plans they have to support our members through the most difficult period of trading ever endured.

“All we want is a fair price for the high-quality pork products our members produce.

“It was recently reported that Tesco profits trebled last year citing ‘meaningful negotiating power’ with suppliers as a reason.

“We urge Tesco to remember that they’ll only be able to continue exercising this ‘meaningful negotiating power’ whilst our members continue to produce pigs.

“Time is running out fast for our local pig producers and it’s extremely hard to swallow when one of the biggest retailers they supply, has the ability to ease the pressure… but instead, continues to sit on the side lines.”

An Aldi Ireland spokesperson stated: “We have been working closely with our suppliers and have already provided significant cost support across our supply base in recent weeks, reflecting the cost challenges our farming and food production partners are facing.”

Sainsburys stated they’ve gained the letter from Edwin Poots, including: “Through working with suppliers to understand their concerns, we recently increased the amount we pay farmers for milk, announced an additional £2.8 million in support for our pork producers, enabling them to align all pigs supplied to Sainsbury’s to a fixed price for a 12-week period from 13 March to 5 June and we are working with our egg suppliers to make sure they receive a price that reflects the increasing costs they are facing. This is based on real time factors, such as the cost of feed.”

Tesco and Asda didn’t reply to our request for a remark earlier than newsletter.

Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability on the BRC, stated: “Retailers have long-standing, established relationships with their suppliers and know how important maintaining these are for their customers and businesses. Supermarkets source most of their food from the UK and know they need to pay a sustainable price to farmers but are constrained by how much additional cost they can pass onto consumers in this very difficult market.”

Agri-food corporations can thrive via going inexperienced

Meanwhile, the executive government of Northern Ireland’s main dairy co-op, Dale Farm, has stated he believes agri-food corporations may just thrive via ‘going inexperienced’.

Nick Whelan, Group Chief Executive of Dale Farm and Chair of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association, known as for a brand new generation of collaboration between {industry} and executive to assist agri-food corporations fulfil their inexperienced ambitions and scale back carbon emissions.

He used to be talking on the Ulster Bank lunch within the display’s President’s Lounge, as a part of a panel that still integrated Moy Park’s Justin Coleman and Ulster Bank Senior Agriculture Manager Cormac McKervey.

Mr Whelan stated: “The largest problem we should face as an {industry} within the years forward is the wish to proceed to feed a rising global inhabitants in probably the most sustainable means.

“Innovation, investment and data gathering will be key to ensuring the industry plays its part in achieving UK net zero. It will also require a new era of collaboration between industry and government, and we look forward to engaging with the new Assembly on these issues.”



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