Agricultural Markets Task Force to report to Commission in November

The Agricultural Markets Task Force is due to report its recommendations to the European Commission in November, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, has said.

The Commissioner was speaking at a meeting of the Government’s Agriculture Committee on Thursday, where he briefed the committee on the current status of agricultural markets.

Some 20 Member States have decided to take individual action themselves against unfair trading practices in the food chain, which the Commissioner said signifies very clearly that there is a problem.

“But we have to see at European level are we going to harmonise the rules around this, because we don’t want to have unintended consequences of distortions of competition, particularly as they would affect border areas.

“The UK model, is a quite interesting model and we have had a number of hearings in the European Parliament about what is the best model to use.

“These are all ideas that are feeding into the Agri-Markets Task Force which I established and they will report in the middle of November.”

Commissioner Hogan said that the recommendations from the task force will be interesting and important to know whether we’re going to have an EU-wide legislative framework or not or is there going to be changes in contract law or in issues around transparency.

“So we look forward to that report but it is certainly going to be an issue on my political list for 2017.”

The mandate of the Agricultural Markets Task Force is to discuss relevant issues, such as market transparency, access for farmers to financial instruments and futures markets to hedge price risks, options for arranging contractual relations within the chain and legal possibilities for organising farmers’ collective actions, the Commissioner said earlier this year.

Earlier this year, MEPs in Brussels voted for the European Commission to put forward proposals against unfair trading practices in the food supply chain to ensure fair earnings for farmers and a wide choice for consumers.

MEPs say that the aim should be to ensure fair and transparent trade relations among food producers, suppliers and distributors.

Fair trading should in turn help to prevent overproduction and food waste, they added.