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“EU Commission must legislate to end Unfair Trading Practises that harm farm prices”

8 June, 2016 - by Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the passing of a European Parliament proposal which calls on the Commission to tackling Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) that dampen the prices farmers receive for their produce.

Carthy said,

“In February of this year, the European Commission stated that it did not intend to address, through a regulatory framework, the issue of Unfair Trading Practises.

“This position of the commission was disappointing because UTPs have contributed to the price crisis that many sectors in agriculture are facing.  In the agri-food chain it is the farmers and SMEs who lose out due to serious imbalances of power.

“It is primarily the supermarket chains and processing companies, who are hugely profitable, who employ practises such as permanent delays, applying untoward pressure to cut prices, retroactive changes to a contract, sudden and unjustified cancellations of contracts, transfer of commercial risk, transferring transport and storage costs.

“Supermarkets especially abuse their power in the food supply chain by selling key products below the cost of production. The dairy sector has especially lost out enormously in the last year, with milk prices dropping to as low as 24cents per litre.  Farmers in beef, pig and tillage sectors have also experienced similar pressures.

A member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee, Carthy continued:

“Measures to combat Unfair Trading Practices have largely operated on a voluntary approach thus far and have been wholly ineffective. The current model of a voluntary stakeholder dialogue set up by the European Commission has done little to meaningfully address imbalances.

“I am pleased that this week the European Parliament, by massive majority, voted in favour of amendments which call on the Commission to bring forward legislative proposals, echoing the calls of Farming organisations for a mixed system combining regulatory and non-regulatory solutions.

“Legislation is the only means of addressing the imbalances in the supply chain and it is now vital that the commission respond to the demands of parliament to protect the most important part of that chain - our farmers.” ENDS

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