OUTRAGED farmers staged a protest in Foynes Port this Tuesday over what they claim are irresponsible actions by importers that are compounding a grain income crisis.
According to representatives who were present at the protest, the unloading of grain was stopped in Foynes upon the arrival of more than 100 farmers on Tuesday morning, many of whom had travelled from outside Limerick.
Speaking at the protest in Foynes Port, Irish Farmers Association (IFA) deputy president Richard Kennedy said grain farmers were extremely angry at the importation of barley by a number of brokers and importers, and accused them of aggravating an already serious income crisis among tillage farmers as they source imported barley in preference to local supplies.
“This latest action, combined with a lack of political will to address the problems faced by grain producers, poses a serious threat to grain production in this country.
“Despite repeated warnings from the IFA at several high-level meetings with the EU Commission and Irish Government, they have refused to acknowledge the gravity of the deepening income crisis on many tillage farms after four consecutive years of grain prices below the cost of production, increasing costs and reducing Direct/Greening Payments”.
Mr Kennedy went on to say that he believes that brokers are “up to their old tricks of importing grain ahead of the main harvest”.
Speaking on RTE’s Sean O’Rourke show earlier this week, IFA grain committee chair Liam Dunne expressed a similar opinion in relation to the brokers.
“They are up to their old tricks of importing grain ahead of the main harvest. They typically use the threat of imports to undermine local prices in an effort to gain market share and boost their own earnings. In many instances, they import inferior quality barley which is high in screenings and borderline on bushel weight.
“Merchants and compound feed mills have been reluctant to quote farmers for their grain in recent days as brokers bypass the local trade and import grain, which in many instances is of inferior quality”.
Giving a stark warning of what will happen if adequate action isn’t taken, Dunne went on to say that the Irish cereal sector is in danger of falling into terminal decline unless immediate and decisive action is taken to reverse the dramatic fall in incomes.
“Irresponsible actions by the brokers and importers will accelerate the sector’s demise to the detriment of Ireland’s livestock industry”.