New Agri Authority must have the full powers of a Regulator - Matt Carthy TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has said that farmers will be apprehensive that the new Unfair Trading Practices Authority may be a continuation of a minimalistic approach that fails to adequately regulate imbalances in the food supply chain.
He has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, to publish the full powers and resources that will be available to the new authority.
The Sinn Féin representative reaffirmed his view that there is a need for a robust regulator that has full power to investigate and penalise processors and retailers that seek to exploit farmers and consumers.
Teachta Carthy said:
“The approach by Minister Charlie McConalogue to the creation of an enforcement authority on unfair trading practices has been minimalistic and slow, and the timeline for the establishment of a Food Ombudsman has constantly shifted since the Minister took office.
“That long-standing commitment to establish a ‘Food Ombudsman’ was against a demand by farmers for a ‘Meat Regulator’. Now, the Minister proposes an 'Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri Food Supply Chain'.
“The Minister must explain what the difference is; and more importantly he must detail what powers and resources will be available to the new body.
“The fact that the unfair trading practices section established within the Department of Agriculture last year has yet to conduct a single investigation shows that the setting up of an authority in itself solves nothing.
“What is required, and what Sinn Féin will be demanding, is a Regulator with real teeth to investigate the cartel-like behaviour and the exploitation of farmers and consumers by processors and retailers and to impose severe penalties when required. The Regulator must have the authority to examine the financial accounts of those operators and ensure that farmers receive a fair price for their products.
“Anything else will simply be a continuation of the minimalistic approach that has been the hallmark of Minister McConalogue’s record on this issue to date.”