Farm Ireland

Monday 23 October 2017

EU action on abuse in food supply chain: McGuinness welcomes new commitment

MEP Mairead McGuinness
MEP Mairead McGuinness
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The European Commission has committed to take further action to address abuses in the food supply chain, a move that has been welcomed by MEP Mairead McGuinness.

She said that in presenting its programme of work for 2017 to the European Parliament, the Commission specifically committed to addressing unfair practices in the food supply chain and will consider further action in light of the concerns of farmers.

"This is most welcome news. Unfair trading practices can involve large retailers delaying payments, overcharging and underpaying suppliers, often adding pressure to farmers who already have had to deal with low market prices.!

A long-standing advocate for legislative measures to crack down on Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) in the food supply chain and McGuinness said this firm commitment was a positive step forward.

"A few months ago, the Parliament voted in favour of the introduction of EU framework legislation to tackle unfair trading practices in the food supply chain in order to ensure that European farmers and consumers have the opportunity to benefit from fair selling and buying conditions.”

She also said that unfair trading practices damage producers and ultimately reduce consumer choice.

"They also impact negatively on the sustainability of our food supply chain. In June, the European Parliament called for an EU-wide framework legislation to tackle this issue, sending a strong signal to the Commission calling for greater action, and a warning to those who engage in unfair trading practices that their actions will not be tolerated."

In its 2017 work programme, the Commission states: "The Commission will take forward and consult widely on simplification and modernisation of the Common Agricultural Policy to maximise its contribution to the Commission's ten priorities and to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

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"This will focus on specific policy priorities for the future, taking account of the opinion of the REFIT Platform, and without prejudice to the Commission proposal to revise the Multiannual Financial Framework. As concerns the position of farmers in the food chain, in the light of the outcome of the ongoing work of the Agricultural Markets Task Force and the High Level Forum on the food supply chain, the Commission will consider further action as necessary."

However, McGuinness said that while voluntary measures are welcome, the EU needs to introduce specific proposals for a harmonised EU regulatory approach on UTPs and an appropriate range of sanctions for those who violate the anti-UTP rules in order to effectively eliminate UTPs.

"What farmers and food suppliers need to see in 2017 is real action on this issue. Voluntary measures are welcome but laws and sanctions will be the true remedy to protect our producers, ensure fairness in the food supply chain and long-term food security."

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