Ban on below-cost purchasing needed now – IFA President

IFA President Francie Gorman is calling on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to recognise the need for additional legislative powers for the Agri-Food Regulator and the need for additional measures in the EU Unfair Trading Practices Directive (UTP) to strengthen the position of farmers in the agri-food chain.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently made comments that farmers should be given increased protection from buyers and dominant food buyers should not be permitted to purchase agri-food products below the cost of production.

Francie Gorman welcomed the recent announcement of the establishment in July of a new EU Agri-food Chain Observatory that aims to bring increased transparency on prices, structure of costs and distribution of margins in the supply chain across all EU member states.

“Our own Minister can do more immediately with our national legislation to protect the livelihoods of farmers,” Mr Gorman said.

“Ireland is one of the only EU member states which did not add additional legislation to the EU UTP’s Directive to help stamp out practices which are putting farmers out of business, such as below-cost buying from farmers and below-cost selling by retailers,” he said.

“The dominance of big food buyers including large retailers operating in Ireland today means they have a dominant position over farmers in the food supply chain and the current legislation does not go far enough to level the playing pitch for farmers,” he added.

IFA says that the establishment of An Rialálaí Agraibhia (The Agri-Food Regulator) last December was a positive first step in addressing the imbalance of power in the food supply chain in Ireland, but that this office must be given significant powers to tackle the big food buyers and strengthen the position of farmers.