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Tuesday 17 October 2017

Files seized at IFA offices over alleged price-fixing bid

Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

THE headquarters of the Irish Farmers' Association was raided by the Competition Authority yesterday following allegations of attempts to fix the price of liquid milk.

Officials, accompanied by a garda, spent over six hours in the building in Bluebell, west Dublin.

They left with computers, mobile phones and numerous boxes of files containing diaries, minutes of meetings and other records.

IFA president John Bryan criticised the authority, saying it was incredible it had deployed 15 officers over a milk supply issue instead of tackling supermarket chains.

"It is totally unacceptable that taxpayers' money is being wasted to target farm families struggling to cope with increased costs and collapsing margins for their milk, while the retail multiples pillage the profits out of the food supply chain, screwing both suppliers and consumers," he said.

"Farmers will be disgusted that the Competition Authority is clearly backing greedy retailers and turning a blind eye to their abuse of suppliers."

The IFA said it had been shown a court order authorising a search, but had not been given the source of the complaint, which they believe was a complaint from retailers alleging attempts to fix the price of milk.

The price they are paid by processors for liquid milk has risen to around 37c a litre in the last year, linked to rising world prices.

However, farmers say they are being squeezed, that the increase to them has been less than it should be to reflect the year-round higher costs for liquid milk compared to seasonal manufacturing milk.

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