It is critical that the recommendations from the Agricultural Markets Task Force on farmers in the food supply chain are introduced without delay, IFA President, Joe Healy has said.

Speaking from Brussels, where the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament today discussed the report, he said that the recommendations need to be actively enforced to rebalance power in favour of farmers.

The report found that new rules are needed at EU level to tackle unfair trading practices and increased market transparency.

Healy said the onus is on the European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan to push forward with the recommendations.

“The report contains important recommendations on increased price transparency and independent enforcement to strengthen farmers’ position in the food chain.”

The Commission must introduce mandatory and timely price reporting for meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables to provide reliable data on prices and margins outside the farmgate through to consumer level.

The IFA President also support the recommendations for effective and independent enforcement of retail regulations at Member State level and the proposal for new rules at EU level to cover Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs).

Suppliers must have confidence that complaints will be investigated, regulations will be complied with and abuses prosecuted, IFA said.

“The report recognises the need for independent enforcement of retail regulation and this effectively supports IFA’s demand for an independent retail Ombudsman.

“This is necessary to assure suppliers that complaints will be investigated and abuses prosecuted.”

Some of the recommendations included in the report include:

  • More market transparency.
  • Price reporting along the food chain.
  • Improve risk management options.
  • Enhanced access to finance for farmers.

Speaking last year at an IFA event, the President said that the absence of a ban on below cost selling is a major flaw in combating unfair trading practices.

The failure to implement a ban on below cost selling has a long-term negative impact on primary producers and diminishes the value of food to consumers, Healy said.

“The farming and the agri-food sector, which is Ireland’s largest productive sector, has been a key driver in in Ireland’s economic recovery.

“However, the recovery is not being felt by those of us who produce food. We are not fairly rewarded for our work and investment.

“The reality is that primary producers are not getting fair play in the food supply chain and our viability is being seriously challenged, both in domestic and European markets.”