Competition authority’s letter ‘undermines impartiality’

Recent moves by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in relation to beef farmers have been called into question by independent TD Mattie McGrath.

The Tipperary TD said that the intervention by the authority into protests being conducted by the Beef Plan Movement has “only increased a sense among farmers that their interests are being subverted at the highest levels” .

Deputy McGrath was speaking in relation to a letter sent by the CCPC to the Beef Plan Movement warning that it “could be engaging in conduct that potentially breaches provisions of the Competition Act 2002 (as amended) (the “2002 Act”)”.

“Most of the farmers I have spoken to are furious at the nature of the intervention by the CCPC.

They see it as a bullying and hectoring approach that stands in sharp contrast to the endless calls they have made for the CCPC and others to recognise the cartel-like monopoly of the processing/factory element of the beef chain.

“Where has the CCPC’s concern for fair competition been these last number of years and why has it only awoken now when it is clear that profits of the factories are under threat?”

Deputy McGrath added that the intervention by the CCPC was, in his view, entirely misjudged and has only served to “perhaps fatally undermine its partiality”.

“Beef farmers only want fair terms and conditions with a decent price for their product that reflects the level of hard work involved in bringing the animal to market.

“You would think that would have been something the CCPC could have gotten behind instead of treating honest, dedicated farmers with intimidatory threats of legal action,” deputy McGrath concluded.