At today’s Copa-Cogeca Working Party meeting on the food chain held in Brussels, IFA President Tim Cullinan was elected Chairman. He takes over from outgoing Chair and previous IFA President Joe Healy.
In his opening address, Tim Cullinan thanked Joe Healy for his contribution on behalf of all Irish and EU farmers.
He highlighted the COPA Food Chain Working Party’s instrumental role in advancing the EU Directive on Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) in the food supply chain.
“This EU Directive is now written into Irish law, similar to most EU member states. It aims to give greater protection against UTP’s to suppliers of food and agricultural products dealing directly with retailers. It is of particular importance to producers of fresh, perishable products, such as fruit and vegetables, that directly interact with retailer buyers,” he said.
The Irish Government must now deliver on its commitment in the Programme for Government (2020) and establish a National Food Ombudsman (NFO) office. Budget 2022 has allocated €4m to the establishment and running of this office, and the Government must not delay getting it up and running. The primary legislation required to set up this new office of a NFO / food regulator needs to be brought forward and enacted and must provide for tackling UTPs in the food chain beyond the remit of the EU Directive.
“The recently established Unfair Trading Practices Enforcement Authority (EA) here in Ireland is an invisible body, and farmers and producers need to see its activity and investigative powers being used to ensure fairness in the supply chain.”
“Below cost selling and unsustainable discounting of food needs to be tackled both by the European Commission and here in Ireland by the Irish Government. The NFO / Regulator needs to be given the power to tackle this unfair trading practice which makes farmers and producers unviable by forcing them to produce below the cost of production. This, I am committed to pursuing, as Chair of the COPA Food Chain Working Party,” he said.