‘Farmers losing out due to unequal balance of power’ – O’Cuiv

Farmers are consistently losing out because of the unequal balance of power between the large supermarket multiples and family farmers and producers, according to Deputy Eamon O’Cuiv.

Fianna Fail’s Agriculture Spokesperson O’Cuiv was in Brussels speaking to the Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan urging him to deliver greater price and gross margin transparency in the EU food sector.

The Fianna Fail wants to ensure that farmers get a fair deal in relation to the prices they are being paid for their produce by large retailers and multinationals.

O’Cuiv said that he had a “very fruitful discussion” about his proposals with the Commissioner’s cabinet.

“I emphasised the need for urgent action at European level to legislate for full disclosure of profit margins enjoyed by the major food retailers.

“Many factors are influencing the market income of European and Irish farmers. These include price volatility, uncertainties over energy markets, increased extreme weather events and increased competition from international suppliers,” he said.

The key to improving margins for farmers is to bring about a properly functioning EU food sector, both at processing and at retailing levels.

O’Cuiv said that the high price Irish consumers are being forced to pay can be partly attributed to inefficiencies within the supply chain.

He said this is mainly caused by retailers retaining profit margins three times greater in Ireland than elsewhere.

Deputy Eamon O Cuiv with members of the Agriculture and Rural Development Cabinet Mr Tom Tynan and Mr Carl-Christian Buhr.
Deputy Eamon O Cuiv with members of the Agriculture and Rural Development Cabinet Mr Tom Tynan and Mr Carl-Christian Buhr.

“Contained in the proposals I submitted to Commissioner Hogan are calls for specific EU legislation that would make it mandatory for food retailing firms that exceed certain thresholds to supply information and data on their profit margins on specific food items in each of the member states they operate in,” O’Cuiv said.

His proposals would also be relatively simple to implement and would effectively address a Europe-wide problem at EU level, he says.

O’Cuiv added that greater transparency would prevent the abuse of the dominant position currently enjoyed by the large retailers.

“I look forward to continued cooperation with Commissioner Hogan on this issue, which is seriously affecting farmers’ ability to get a fair price for their produce in the food supply chain,” he said.