Farm leaders have accused the German discount stores Aldi and Lidl of gross hypocrisy for slashing the price of fresh produce below the cost of production while claiming to support Irish growers.

Both supermarkets who have been selling vegetables for as low as 29 cents insist that their price promotions do not impact on the price they pay  to farmers. However the IFA say the practice of below cost selling seriously distorts the markets for all vegetables.

About a hundred farmers staged a protest at both the Aldi and Lidl Stores in Finglas in Dublin today to highlight the issue. 

IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin said growers have invested hugely in their farm businesses to supply Bord Bia Quality Assured Irish fresh produce for consumers and that their sustainability cannot be taken for granted.

He said that claims by the supermarkets that they bear the entire cost of these giveaways are disingenuous and are not borne out by the facts. 

He said that the next government cannot simply stand by and let the retailers have unrestricted powers which damage farmers and growers.

He called for an independent ombudsman to be put in place who can effectively police retailers and enforce the legislation. 

He also highlighted that below cost selling is outlawed in Germany which is the home country of both of the discount retailers.