Farmers have welcomed the Irish government's plans to establish a new Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri Food Supply Chain, saying that more needs to be done to stop retailers from slashing prices on fresh produce.
In a statement, Irish Farmers Association president Tim Cullinan said, “We have waited a long time for this. We look forward to seeing the draft legislation and to having genuine input into what powers the office will have,” he said.
“It must have full powers of investigation and be able to compel actors in the chain to provide them with real data and back up documentation. Just doing ‘market analysis’ based on ‘publicly available’ information will not cut it."
'Greater Transparency' In Supply Chain
Earlier this week, Ireland's Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, announced that the government had approved a bill to establish the new office, which he said will bring "greater transparency" along the agricultural and food supply chain.
Effectively taking the role of an ombudsman, the office will engage with retailers, processors, wholesalers, farmers, fishers, and others on matters effecting fairness and transparency in the agri-food supply chain, and will "be responsible for ensuring that buyers in the agri-food supply chain do not implement unfair practices in their business-to-business relationships with suppliers", McConalogue added.
According to the IFA, the office will play a 'crucial' role in ensuring fair remuneration for farmers, and in regulating unfair trading practices.
"If it does not ensure a viable price for farmers for their work and investment, then we will see more farmers in horticulture, potatoes and the pig and poultry sectors go out of business,” said Cullinan.
“Large retailers using their dominant position to drive down prices to farmers to unviable levels, often below the cost of production, has to stop."