The Irish Farmer’s Association (IFA) has called for retailers to end their policy of discounting fresh food in their stores.

The call comes as vegetables, potatoes and lamb are being sold below the cost of production this week at a price that the IFA has said is insulting to the farmers and growers who produced it.

“Farmers are having an awful time with wet weather and cost pressures, and to see what they worked so hard to produce being devalued on the shop shelf is morally wrong and will ultimately drive farmers out of business,” IFA president Francie Gorman said.

The IFA has long called for Government to legislate against the practice of below-cost selling, as other EU member states have done.

There was an opportunity in the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Act 2023 to prohibit this practice, but the Government bottled it under pressure from retailers, the IFA said. The Minister for Agriculture must introduce an amendment on below-cost selling now, it said.

“The vegetable sector is in serious decline and this practice of slashing prices is completely undermining growers. It will see Ireland without vegetable growers unless the Government put a stop to this cheap marketing stunt,” he said.

Price of lamb

Similarly, sheep farmers are recognised as a low-income sector, and the IFA called for support for them to remain farming.

"Lidl and Aldi are selling lamb well below the cost of production this week and this could potentially undermine the market and see farm gates prices fall as a result. This is at a time when farmers are at their wits' end due to the weather conditions.

“Farmers cannot stand by and let multinational companies such as Lidl and Aldi with millions in annual profits undermine the livelihoods of Irish farmers,” he concluded.