EU should be addressing 'complete stranglehold' that the factories have on the livestock industry - ICOS

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

While welcoming the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) in the food supply chain ICOS National Marts said it must must also address meat factories.

The European Commission announced a series of measures on Thursday to protect small European farmers and food producers from what it says are unfair trading practices by larger corporations.

The measures, which still need to be approved by member states and the European Parliament, will outlaw practices such as late payments, last-minute order cancellations and retroactive changes to contracts by the buyer.

Only small and medium-sized producers, which are defined as having fewer than 250 employees or an annual turnover of less than 50 million euros ($62 million), are targeted by the proposal.

Additionally it is limited to companies that have their base in the EU.

ICOS National Marts Chairman, Michael Spellman said his organisation are concerned to ensure that meat factories must come under the scope of this Directive due to their dominant market position and the role that is exercised by a small number of large entities in the overall supply chain.

“The complete stranglehold that the factories have on the livestock industry in Ireland is a gross example of the Unfair Trading Practice which this Directive should be addressing.

"Measures currently being enforced by Irish meat factories in their buying practices are subverting the free trade of cattle in Ireland, controlling prices and stifling competition.

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“Brexit is an additional complication where it’s uncertain as to the impact this Directive may have on the  UK and Northern Ireland jurisdictions and on the requirements and actions of Irish owned factories and British retailers. 

"Any divergence or weakening in the protections or regulations currently afforded to producers under existing legal frameworks must be challenged at all costs”

“We welcome the fact that Commissioner Hogan has stated to MEPs, when presenting the proposals, that the list of infringements could be added to. 

"I would urge the Commissioner to look to Ireland where he could easily add to the list through an examination of the trading practices currently enforced by the meat industry in this country, and most particularly the spurious penalties that are levied on producers based on unreasonable conditions such as limitations on livestock movements.

"This has a further knock-on effect in curtailing trade by marts which are one of the last bulwarks of free trade and competition in the Irish meat industry,” Mr Spellman said.

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