Cabinet set to decide on agri-food regulator today
Last week, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue drafted the final legislation which would allow a new regulator to issue fines of up to €10 million for breaches of unfair trading practices (UTP).
It aims to improve market transparency and promote fairness in the agricultural and food supply chain.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) announced a recruitment campaign in October to hire a chief executive officer (CEO) for the new Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri-Food Supply Chain – a name which has since been changed to Agri-Food Regulator or An Rialtóir Agraibhia.
The indicated yearly salary is between €98,593 to €121,586 and Budget 2023 has allocated €4 million towards the establishment of the office.
It is expected that the new watchdog would have the ability to issue possible fines of up to €10 million or 10% of a company’s turnover for those found to be engaging in UTPs.
Along with having the power to investigate suspected breaches, the new authority will have the ability to refer matters to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) if it suspects that an indictable offence has been committed.
Fair price for produce
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Poultry chairman, Nigel Sweetnam has acknowledged the progress that the minister has made to date on retail regulation, but said the new regulator must address what describes as the “real” problem.
“Farmers shouldn’t have to blockade or protest to get a fair price for their products. The use of poultry and other food as loss leaders has already put many farmers out of business,” he said.
“This practice creates the expectation from the consumer that the core items in their shopping basket should come at a very cheap, and unsustainable, price.
“We do sympathise with financially-challenged consumers, but it must be recognised that we, as food producers, also face the same cost challenges.”
Nigel Sweetnam said farmers must get their fair slice of the retail price so they can continue producing food sustainably into the future.
“The government’s spend of €4 million on a regulator must protect farmers and primary food producers. The taxpayers of this country deserve nothing less,” he concluded.