Record surge in food export profits as farm incomes plummet.

‘Farmers are being used to make others rich.’

Food Wise 2015 not a solution to the problem of ‘more farmers becoming less and less viable.’

Sligo News File Online

How is it possible for the profits of food and drink exporters to surge to record levels when the very industry from which its draws its raw resources is on the verge of collapse?

Edmond Phelan, chairman, ICSA National Beef Committee.

Chairman of the ICSA beef committee Edmond Phelan has said the announcement of food and drink exports of €11.15 billion for 2016 demonstrated “yet again that farmers are being used to make others rich.

He said, “It is remarkable that a year like 2016 which stood out in terms of income collapse for tillage and dairy farmers, along with substantial price falls in the cattle sector should still deliver record export earnings.”

This proves again, he said “that the focus of Food Wise 2025 – increasing food and drink exports to €19 billion – does not provide any solution to the key problem that more and more farmers are becoming less and less viable. Policy must focus on farm incomes, and that’s why ICSA is looking at a radically different approach of less is more when it comes to farm profits.”

Mr. Phelan said that the Bord Bia analysis that Brexit impacts had cost food and drink exporters about €570 million was not strictly accurate. “While companies exporting to the UK certainly faced revenue reductions from currency exchange; the reality is that they pass a lot of this back to the primary producer in terms of lower farm gate price and therefore losses of €570 million are not all carried by food companies.

“As we have seen in previous years, these companies are often slow to pass back the benefits when sterling increases.” He said that overall, the reality is that increased output is doing nothing for farmers, but it makes for good headlines.”