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Farmers don’t benefit from food inflation – Gildernew

30 September, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew has held talks with the Consumer Council to discuss the issue of food inflation and its effects on farmers and consumers alike.

Eleanor Gill, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council, and senior staff were invited to Stormont to discuss how consumers, of which large numbers are farmers and their families, are coping with the rising cost of living.

The Minister stated:

"Rising food prices are primarily due to global issues beyond our control. In addition, the recent local severe weather has added another burden. However, despite rising food prices for the consumer, the reality is that the farmers' margin has remained static or decreased over the same period, due to the rising costs of animal feeds, fuel and fertilisers. Farmers are also consumers as well so they have been dealt a double blow."

The Minister and Consumer Council representatives discussed the effects that heavily discounted promotions could have on the long term sustainability of producers and considered factors to help consumers buy local produce where possible.

Minister Gildernew advised:

"A longer term view of buying locally produced food will help maintain an industry here which would undoubtedly secure food supplies in the future. This could prove vital if imported food was threatened by natural disasters or man-made issues."

"I am pleased both the Consumer Council and myself agree that positive actions such as consumers seeking more information and asking about the source of their food in shops and restaurants, will support and sustain local producers in these difficult times." ENDS

Note to Editors

The Consumer Council is a Non-Departmental Public Body within the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment established under the General Consumer Council (NI) Order 1984. Its functions include consumer affairs, consumer education and consumer support and complaints handling as well as a multi-statutory role to represent consumers in electricity, natural gas, transport and water. Eleanor Gill, the chief executive, leads an executive team which develops policy, carries out research, campaigns for change, seeks redress for consumers and promotes consumer skills and education.

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