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Irish consumers encouraged to support local farmers this Christmas

A clip of an Irish farmer challenging people to buy locally re-emerged on social media this week, as farmers here struggle with increased energy and output costs.

Back in December 2019, Irish farmer Eoin Sharkey, who owns Masperath Farm in Mayo, encouraged people to give the gift of business to their local farmers by buying something directly from them in the run-up to Christmas. In the video, which is being seen by many for the first time, the farmer says that something which “is not that hard” can make a huge difference to farmers.

The viral clip has been shared widely across social media platforms this week as people start to gear up for Christmas, with many agreeing that they would make an effort to buy from local farm shops and markets instead of big supermarket chains.

A huge range of local produce can be bought from farmers at the likes of local farmer’s markets – meaning people can bypass supermarkets to invest in their local economy as farmers’ expenses have rocketed in recent months. 

“I’m going to put up a challenge to all on Twitter,” he said. “We all talk about food, we all say how we love food, but my challenge to you this Christmas is [to] buy something direct from a farmer.

“It’s not that hard. Find a farmer,” he urged. “We all have a doctor, we all have a dentist, we all have a local grocer and a newsagent and a garage. But how many of you people out there actually have a farmer?”

“Go and find yourself a farmer and buy something direct [from] that person for Christmas because it means an awful lot to us. It’s not that hard – go to a local farmer’s market. You’ll find brilliant people there selling their cheese, selling their honey. Selling sausages, all types of produce. It could be buying your turkey from a farmer, it could be buying your ham, it could be buying your honey.

“There’s so many things that us farmers sell that you eat every single day, but my challenge to you is to find yourself a farmer [and] buy something direct this Christmas from an Irish farmer. Know that farmer, know where he’s from, know his name”.

He asked those on Twitter to “tag somebody in this, retweet it, tag somebody and make them do the same, challenge other people to do that promise to buy something direct from a farmer and help farmers in Ireland”.

“It’s a good thing to do for Christmas,” he added. “Let that be your Christmas present to the Irish farmers. Thank you”.

“Buy something direct from an Irish farmer this Christmas, they are who feed us, not the supermarkets. They are being squeezed and need our help,” one Facebook user wrote in response this week.

Others explained how they already get fresh fruit and veg, eggs, bread, and seasonal products straight from their local farmers in an effort to cut out intermediaries and promote sustainable local Agriculture. Others posted fresh messages of support for farmers, encouraging them to “keep up the good work”.

The Irish Farming Association has called on consumers to support Irish pig farmers this Christmas. Pointing to the challenges pig farmers have faced over the past 18 months, chair of the IFA National Pig Committee, Roy Gallie, said in a statement that some producers have been forced to shut up shop due to the “exorbitant” increases in input costs.

“The traditional ham is a feature on our Christmas dinner tables. I would ask that when you make your trip to the supermarket or shop online, choose Bord Bia Quality Assured Irish ham with the Bord Bia logo clearly displayed,” Gallie urged consumers with the Christmas season just around the corner.

“Irish retailers have shown commitment to the Bord Bia logo and to Irish producers which is verified through the DNA scheme,” he said, adding:

“We encourage them to strengthen and grow this commitment, but we also need to raise consumer awareness in choosing the Bord Bia logo and what it means to us as local producers. For the consumer, Irish pork meat is great quality, great value, great taste and highly nutritious”.

The IFA National Pig Committee Chair said that making an effort to support Irish pig farmers will help secure a future for farmers, amid a backdrop of increased costs.

“Choose to support local Irish food producers, Irish farmers, your neighbours, farm families, when you buy your Christmas ham this year. Purchasing Bord Bia Quality Assured pigmeat each week will secure a future for Irish pig producers,” he said.

“When you pick up your ham, pack of rashers, or pork chops, choose the product with the Bord Bia logo and conscientiously buy Irish this Christmas”.

Meanwhile, farmers in the Netherlands have also taken action to keep their livelihoods afloat, according to reports. Dutch farmers are leading a campaign to ensure people buy local by boycotting selling their produce to supermarkets. According to political pundit and writer James Melville, people in Holland are showing solidarity to farmers through buying directly from farms over supermarkets, choosing to use local farmers’ markets and food cooperation.

Many supported the initiative on social media, with some saying they already buy from local farm shops and directly from dairy farmers.

It follows a string of protests in the nation over the summer, which erupted over the Dutch government’s plan to curtail nitrogen emissions from the country’s farms – a proposal which would necessitate cutting livestock numbers across the country.

A recent report from the US Department of Agriculture claims that the Dutch Government anticipates that a substantial number of farms will be forced to close, with some farmers vowing to continue protesting.

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