The meeting was attended by over 100 growers who supply almost all of the fruit and vegetables grown in the country.
There was huge frustration and anger at the meeting. However, individual growers were genuinely fearful that, if they took action, they would be targeted or delisted by retailers.
Therefore, it was decided that all decisions in relation to what action needed to be taken would be left to IFA President Tim Cullinan who was in attendance at the meeting.
Speaking after the meeting, Tim Cullinan said he was horrified by some of what he heard from farmers.
“Growers are going out of business. Costs have gone up, but retailers, and discounters in particular, will not give a fair price increase and they continue to use food as a loss leader,” he said.
“IFA is currently on a round of meetings with the major retailers. We need to see serious commitments by them to address cost increases in the sector. They must start to treat growers with respect and realise that we will have no domestic supply of fruit and veg if they don’t foster and support growers,” he said.
“It is clear that growers are sick of how they are being treated and they are willing to fight for their businesses. Poultry and pig farmers have also been protesting at supermarkets recently and anger is building. The message to me as IFA President is clear: it’s time for action,” he said.
“The second message from last night was that the Government need to bring forward their promised legislation for a food regulator. This cannot be a paper tiger. It must have teeth and we want to see a ban on the below-cost selling of food.” he said.