Ulster Farmers’ Union president, Barclay Bell, has urged horticultural crop growers to look seriously at the creation of a producer organisation (PO).
Recognised by the European Commission, these improve the bargaining power of farmers – and Mr Bell said that in the difficult conditions the industry is experiencing, ways need to be found to ease the squeeze on margins.
Mr Bell was speaking after producers came together to discuss the merits of a PO in Northern Ireland. The industry, with support from the UFU and CAFRE has set up a task force to see if a case can be made for pressing ahead.
“Whilst it is recognised producer organisations are not a new phenomenon, Northway a flagship PO on our doorstep built on mushrooms and with the addition of the strawberry sector adding to Northway’s portfolio illustrates the PO model can and does deliver success,” said Mr Bell.
PO’s are strong across Europe and guest speaker, Ad Klaassen, the secretary general of the Dutch Producers Association, explained structures, rules, benefits, opportunities and discipline required to make them successful.
Northway communicated how growers and packer/processors can do business that delivers a better deal for the benefit of all.
“Having the confidence and support to plan ahead and being part of a cohesive group builds momentum and bargaining power along the supply chain,” said Mr Bell, who urged producers to support the task force considering a PO here, and to see it as something that could help ease the constant margin pressure from the major supermarkets and other buyers.