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IFA President Joe Healy has welcomed the adoption today (12 March) by the European Parliament of new rules that will ensure the protection of European farmers against unfair trading practices (UTPS) in the food supply chain.

The new European law builds on a proposal tabled by the European Commission and will cover agricultural and food products traded in the food supply chain, banning for the first time up to 16 unfair trading practices imposed unilaterally by one trading partner on another.

The COPA and COGECA Group on the Food Supply Chain chaired Joe Healy in his capacity as a COPA Vice President, drove the campaign on behalf of European farmers on retail dominance and Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs).

“This is a positive result for farmers who have always been subjected to the whims of large retailers. The unfair trading practices to be banned include: late payments for perishable food products; last minute order cancellations; unilateral or retroactive changes to contracts; forcing the supplier to pay for wasted products and refusing written contracts,” said Joe Healy.

The IFA President acknowledged the work Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development has done to achieve this result.

“IFA has campaigned for many years, nationally and in Europe, for a re-balancing of power in the food supply chain. This is crucial to deliver a viable price for farmers, and a return on their work and investment. Many retailers were behaving like modern-day dictatorships, abusing their power to accumulate vast profits. The new rules announced today will re-balance the scale, which is all farmers ever wanted. Another important measure that IFA has called for is the appointment of an independent retail regulator for the food sector.” said Joe Healy.

The Irish Government must now transpose the Directive into Irish Law and IFA wants to see this happen without delay.

IFA President Joe Healy has welcomed the agreement reached in Brussels today between the EU Commission, Parliament and Council on a fairer food chain.

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Addressing a protest at an M&S store in West Dublin today (14 December), IFA President Joe Healy accused the retailer of gross hypocrisy by slashing the price of fresh produce below the cost of production.

“I want to nail the lie that vegetable and potatoes can be sold below cost without hurting Irish growers and ultimately driving them out of business. Using farm produce as a tool to drive footfall undermines Irish production and the financial viability of specialist growers and producers. The number of field vegetable growers fell from 377 in 1999 to 165 in 2015, a drop of 56% and this trend has continued. Farmers have invested hugely in their businesses to ensure sufficient supplies of fresh Irish produce. This predatory pricing model takes the inherent value out of fresh produce lines, leaving it difficult to ensure sustainable farm gate prices and demeans the category in the minds of the consumer,” said Joe Healy.

The IFA President said, “It’s been a very tough year on producers, with significant extra costs because of the late Spring and the drought conditions during the summer. Reducing the shelf price of some vegetables and potatoes to as low as 20c/kg sends a very misleading message to consumers regarding the costs, risks and skills associated with this sector.”

He pointed out the gross hypocrisy of this practice in light of M&S’s stated commitment to supporting the sector, “It is ironic that in the M&S ‘Farming for the Future’ programme they refer to sustainability and ethical standards. It begs the question as to what is ethical and sustainable about these predatory pricing tactics?”

The President also added that he was disappointed at the lack of support for Irish growers by M&S as he remarked at the number of vegetable lines in the store which were non-Irish.

Joe Healy said the Grocery Goods regulations introduced in 2016 totally neglected to address unsustainable discounting, and he re-iterated IFA’s call on the Enterprise Minister, Heather Humphreys T.D. to address this issue immediately.

Ahead of the two biggest shopping weekends of the year, IFA President Joe Healy has warned retailers against discounting fresh produce in the run-up to Christmas.

“Using farm produce as a tool to drive footfall undermines Irish production and the financial viability of specialist growers and producers. Farmers have invested hugely in their businesses to ensure sufficient supplies of fresh Irish produce for Christmas. Retailers have to respect this investment.”

Launching IFA’s Christmas Food Producers’ campaign on a farm in north Dublin that grows parsnips, cauliflower and cabbage, Joe Healy said it’s been a very tough year, with significant extra costs because of the drought conditions during the summer. “At the time, retailers supported growers because they understood the pressures that existed. We are asking for retailers to show similar backing between now & Christmas”.

“Let’s remember that when Ireland was hit by a snowstorm last March, supermarket shelves immediately ran out of milk and bread – two products that Irish consumers expect to be available.”

IFA has denounced the unsustainable discounting of fresh milk by retailers. Milk at 65c-67c/l is less than it costs to produce, process and put on the shelf.

Joe Healy said the Grocery Goods regulations introduced in 2016 totally neglected to address unsustainable discounting, and he re-iterated IFA’s call on the Enterprise Minister Heather Humphreys to introduce an independent retail regulator.

 

IFA President Joe Healy said the decision by the European Parliament today to give the green light to discussions on banning Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) is an important step for farmers.

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