The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) was “dancing to the meat industry’s tune” by trying to stymie any attempt to get a better return for the farmer, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

IFA president Tim Cullinan was reacting to some of the correspondence released under Freedom of Information (FOI) to The Currency yesterday, Tuesday, August 11, which he said shows this stance.

“The commission failed to act on hundreds of complaints from farmers, but sprang into action as soon as Meat Industry Ireland [MII] wrote to it,” he said.

It is extraordinary that, despite what was going on at the time, and the volume of complaints made to the CCPC, it refused to use its considerable powers to carry out any type of investigative work to seek evidence of collusion.

“In fact, the CCPC only responded to farmer complaints when the IFA legal team wrote to it threatening legal action due to its failure to carry out its functions,” he claimed.

“It seems the CCPC is only interested in keeping prices to consumers low, and is ignoring its remit to enforce fair competition along the chain,” he said.

“The focus on keeping consumer prices down is putting undue pressure on all parts of the food chain. We need a totally new approach on food.

The government must move to set up the office of the food ombudsman as committed to in the Programme for Government.

“We need to focus on fairness throughout the chain, rather than on a narrow cheap food agenda,” he said.