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Prominent vegetable grower from East Co Cork quits over below-cost prices

Grower William Lenane has spent almost seven decades in the industry, growing 8 ha of grain, 4 ha of potatoes, and a further 2 ha of horticultural vegetables, but says that the lackluster prices of vegetables on the market mean that he will be forced to stop growing veg at the end of this season.

Lenane runs two roadside stalls to sell his produce, but as vegetables are sold as a loss leader in supermarkets, while inflation drives up costs on all fronts, the public is increasingly unwilling to pay above the cost of production. "They are talking about food being scarce and trying to encourage people to grow vegetables, yet I have a lot of produce that I just can't sell. I'm going to have to plough it back into the ground because the market just isn't there for a fair price for it," he said.

Lenane explained that while there is nothing wrong with any of the produce, the price offered for it is wrong: "You can sell it for literally nothing, but that is all you will get for it."

And when retailers are offering growers as little as 10-12 cents for a head of cauliflower, it's no wonder he feels that way; 22 cents a head would allow him to break even, but he reckons it would take 60 cents a head for it to be truly viable.

Furthermore, there used to be 30 horticultural growers where Lenane is from in East Co Cork, but today there are just two. "Most of them have given up because they aren't making money from it," he said. "The days of being able to produce vegetables for next to nothing are gone."


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