Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Law to curb supermarket chains will aid farmers

Aideen Sheehan

THE European Parliament has called for new laws to protect farmers from abuses by dominant supermarket chains.

Irish MEPs welcomed the report approved yesterday which calls for a ban on below-cost selling and the establishment of an ombudsman to regulate the food chain.

The proposals call for tougher penalties for breaches of existing laws as well as an easier complaints procedure and will now be sent to the European Commission which will consider it in a major review of the Common Agricultural Policy this autumn.

Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness said it brought the curbing of the excessive power of supermarket chains a step closer.

Those who set prices should have to do so in an open and transparent way and the price should reflect the cost of producing food, she said.

Independent MEP Marian Harkin welcomed the strong vote, noting that a recent survey in Ireland showed three-quarters of consumers believed farmers did not get a fair price.

"This is confirmed by the fact that in Ireland farmers receive just 33pc of the retail price of milk, 50pc of the beef price and 20pc of the cheese price," she said.


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This situation was also true at EU level as European Commission research showed that, since 1995, farmers were the only ones in the food-supply chain whose share of the retail price was decreasing, Ms Harkin said.

The report was drawn up by French MEP Jose Bove, an environmental activist known for anti-McDonalds protests.

However, a proposal calling for preferential treatment for farmers' organisations in public procurement contracts was defeated.

Irish Independent