Reynolds raises ‘unfair trading practices in the EU agricultural sector’

A National Party candidate in the upcoming European elections, James Reynolds, has slammed what he has branded unfair trading practices within the EU’s agricultural sector, particularly targeting the manipulation of farm product prices by the meat processing industry and retail supermarket chains.

Reynolds claims that these practices have led to a rigged market for beef in Ireland, with one business holding an effective monopoly on rendering (offal disposal) and the “big three processors” effectively controlling the Irish beef processing market.

Reynolds says: “If elected as an MEP, I will work to achieve a significant ‘beefing up’ of the existing EU Unfair Trading Practices legislation by means of a two-pronged approach”.

Reynolds’ first proposal involves the establishment of an EU Food & Drinks Market Regulator’s Office. He suggests that this office would be equipped with sufficient enforcement powers to impose hefty sanctions and penalties on those found to be in breach of EU Competition law. He believes that this body would play a crucial role in protecting primary beef producers and ensuring fair trading practices across various food markets, including the wine sector.

The second aspect of Reynolds’ plan calls for national-level action. He advocates for the enactment of fair pricing legislation by the Oireachtas, modelled on existing Minimum Wage legislation. Reynolds proposes that this legislation would guarantee farmers, as primary producers, a fair share of the retail price of food, ensuring they earn a margin above the cost of production. He stresses that this measure is essential to protect farmers and horticultural growers from the detrimental effects of supermarkets using food products as loss leaders.

Reynolds highlights the importance of this additional element of national pricing legislation to provide farmers with protection from practices that undermine the prices paid to growers for vegetables and potatoes, often below the cost of production.