Fianna Fail says its new Food Ombudsman laws would will help farmers receive fair prices

A retailer recently ran a promotion offering free carrots and potatoes when customers bought roast beef.
A retailer recently ran a promotion offering free carrots and potatoes when customers bought roast beef.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Fianna Fail has renewed its efforts to regulate the food supply with the introduction of National Food Ombudsman Bill 2017 to the Dail today.

In a speech in the Dail, Fianna Fail’s Charlie McConalogue said a fair return for the primary producer is a central plank of his partys agriculture policy and is vital to the long term survival and success of the horticulture, beef, sheep, liquid milk, pigs, tillage and poultry sectors.

This legislation amends consumer law to provide for a “Food Ombudsman” and the protection of primary producers in national law.

McConalogue said farmers are increasingly finding it difficult to receive fair prices for their produce.

“We believe action is now required to ensure that producers can earn a decent living as part of a dynamic and innovative sector.

“The future of the family farm unit and long term food security is reliant upon producing goods at a profit.

“Farmers are struggling to make a sustainable income in the face of on-going price erosion by large multiple retailers,” he said.

The proposals in the Fianna Fail bill will give a legislative basis for the first time for an office of a National Food Ombudsman.

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Fianna Fail says the legislation would establish an office of National Food Ombudsman as part of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission; to enable the holder of that office to mediate and investigate disputes between, on the one hand, relevant grocery goods undertakings engaged in the retail or wholesale of grocery goods in the State and, on the other hand, suppliers of those goods; and to provide for related matters.

“This will ensure than suppliers that may be subject to any unfair trading practices by retailers or wholesalers would have direct recourse to an independent food ombudsman within the CCPC,” McConalogue said.

He added that the office holder would retain the powers of the CCPC, which include investigating and resolving disputes relating to the grocery goods undertaking regulations.

“Where the regulations are found to be breached, the ombudsman would be empowered to commence investigations, which could result in fines and penalties,” he said.

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