The President of the Irish Farmers' Association has warned consumers they should expect higher food prices.

Speaking at the IFA's annual general meeting at the Mansion House in Dublin, Tim Cullinan said food prices had not risen in 20 years and farmers are under severe pressure due to the rising costs of inputs such as fertiliser and feeds. He said some could go out of business if something is not done.

The IFA is also calling on the Government to move quickly to appoint a Food Regulator who could look at where costs and profits are distributed throughout the food chain.

Mr Cullinan accused retailers of continuing "to turn the screw" on farmers.

He said appointing a regulator would require primary legislation but argued that could be put through the Oireachtas by the end of March. Farmers hope a regulator would mean they could get a better deal from processor and retailers.

On climate, the IFA is maintaining its line that farmers will work to reduce emissions but that production cuts cannot be accepted.

Mr Cullinan argued that at a time when the world's population is growing, EU policy is to cut food production and this risks creating a food emergency.

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The IFA advocates that cuts in carbon emissions should be at the lower end of the 22%-30% band set out for agriculture under the Climate Action Plan.

When put to Mr Cullinan that if agriculture does not achieve a 30% cut in emissions it will mean other sectors will have to exceed their targets, or the Climate Action Plan target to cut all emissions by 51% will not be achieved, he argues that emissions from the agriculture sector should not be treated the same as other emissions "because we are producing food".

The IFA is calling for Teagasc and other research bodies to be given time to develop technologies to bring down emissions and cites Food Vision 2030, which sets out a target of €21 billion in food exports by the end of this decade, up to the current record level of €13.5 billion.

Mr Cullinan also described Ireland's suckler herd as "one of our great national assets" and said it cannot be allowed to wither on the vine.