Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has welcomed Cabinet approval to establish a new independent statutory authority to enhance transparency in the agricultural and food supply chain.

The Cabinet today (Tuesday, March 22) approved a general scheme of the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill 2022, which will, when enacted, establish the Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri-Food Supply Chain.

The new office aims to promote fairness and transparency through a price and market analysis, and reports providing information on all sectors.

Minister McConalogue said the new authority will also engage with retailers, processors, wholesalers, farmers, fishers and others on the matter.

He added:

“I am acutely aware of the importance of ensuring that there is fairness in the agricultural and food supply chain for farmers, fishers and other food suppliers.

“Events of recent weeks reminded us all of the fragility of the agri-food supply chain, and it is now more important than ever to ensure that there is an independent voice to promote and indeed enforce, the principles of fairness and transparency in that chain,” the minister said.

A viable and resilient agri-food sector, in particular for primary producers, Minister McConalogue said, is a key priority for him and the government.

Unfair trading practices

The new office will also act as the state’s designated Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) Enforcement Authority, to ensure buyers in the agri-food supply chain do not implement unfair practices in their business-to-business relationships with suppliers.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) said that the bill provides for the introduction of charges for complaints and a levy on industry.

UTP regulations are currently enforced by the interim UTP Enforcement Authority in the DAFM. The transfer is expected to occur at the time of the commencement of the act.