The threat to the agri - food industry posed by global grain prices was the main topic for discussion at a meeting of the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association and the Irish Grain and Feed Association held in Dublin last week.

Pictured at the North/South meeting of the NI Grain Trade Association and the Irish Grain and Feed Association on 4 October 2007, are, front row: Deirdre Webb, Director, IGFA; Robin Irvine, President NIGTA; Jerry Clifford, President, IGFA. Back row: Ronan Huges, IGFA; Gary McGuigan, Vice President, NIGTA; Seamus Power, IGFA; Joe Connolly, Chairman of Feed Committee, IGFA.
Pictured at the North/South meeting of the NI Grain Trade Association and the Irish Grain and Feed Association on 4 October 2007, are, front row: Deirdre Webb, Director, IGFA; Robin Irvine, President NIGTA; Jerry Clifford, President, IGFA. Back row: Ronan Huges, IGFA; Gary McGuigan, Vice President, NIGTA; Seamus Power, IGFA; Joe Connolly, Chairman of Feed Committee, IGFA.

NIGTA's President, Robin Irvine, outlined his Association’s efforts to impress upon the rest of the food chain the impact that increased feed prices would have on livestock farmers. Beef, pig and poultry producers cannot absorb the scale of these increases and will be forced out of business unless the industry responds quickly with better returns to the primary producer.

Speaking after the meeting Robin Irvine said "We agreed that it is vitally important to ensure that the necessary price increases to the consumer are passed back to the farmer without any time lag.

Local food is produced under highly regulated food safety and animal welfare conditions – it is a premium product and should provide a reasonable return for each link in the food chain." Failure to deliver this will put the whole food industry at risk and would have serious implications for the economy on both sides of the border.

Both organisations have had meetings with their respective Ministers of Agriculture, their MEPs and the EU Agriculture Commissioner’s special advisers.

He added "We welcome the discussions that our Minister of Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew and the Ulster Farmers Union have had with the retailers and will be monitoring the situation as will our colleagues in the South."