Competition watchdog ‘treated farmers with contempt’

Letters issued to over 200 complainants by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) last week “treated farmers with contempt”, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Commenting on the letters, sent out by the watchdog last Friday, June 5, IFA president Tim Cullinan said: “If the CCPC thinks it has washed its hands of this matter, it is a long way wrong.”

On May 22, the IFA’s legal representatives wrote to the CCPC chairperson Isolde Goggin demanding a response to scores of complaints made to the authority about the beef sector over the last 12 months.

The authority failed to even respond to the complaints, the IFA said.

The farm organisation claimed that the authority was failing in its functions and asked the CCPC to let the IFA and farmers know the outcome of their complaints.

We were clear with the CCPC that if it continued to ignore the complaints, we would seek a judicial review and take an action against it for damages caused to farmers’ livelihoods as a result of its failure to carry out its functions.

“We learned that rather than investigating the complaints, it took the CCPC all this time to decide to do nothing, without even an investigation. It’s pathetic,” the president said.

“IFA’s legal team is now reviewing the correspondence from the commission to explore what legal and other options are open to us,” Cullinan added.

“In our recent review of the beef sector, economist Jim Power concluded that it was in everyone’s interest to have an investigation to clear up the matter once and for all.

“However, the CCPC won’t even try to use its considerable powers to try and seek evidence, despite a huge number of complaints and considerable public disquiet,” Cullinan concluded.