EU Agriculture Commissioner Designate Phil Hogan has told Agriland that he will give strong consideration to the appointment of a Food Ombudsman as a way of ensuring a better balance within Europe’s agri food chain.

“The supermarkets have too much buying power,” he added.

“Their current buying practises disadvantage primary producers and steps must be taken to rectify this situation. In the first instance I will look at a legislative approach in terms of resolving these matters. And the appointment of an Ombudsman may well be the logical end point of this process.”

When asked what he could do to specifically benefit Irish agriculture, should he be formally ratified as Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan commented “I am a committed European. And should I be appointed to the position of Agriculture Commissioner, I will seek to act for all the farmers of Europe on an even handed basis. However, I would add that my policies moving forward will reflect the experiences that have shaped my career to date, working with Irish farmers over many years.”

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland MEP Diane Dodds is calling on Mr Hogan to undertake a root and branch overhaul of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as part of the mid-term review process, planned for 2017.

She told Agriland: “I was glad to hear Mr Hogan commit to the development of a simplified CAP. This is fundamentally important. In the short term, he must act to ensure that effective support measures are introduced for the dairy sector. This week’s 7.3% fall in the Fonterra auction prices is the latest in a series of significant price drops recorded on international dairy markets over the past number of months.

“And one of the steps he could take with immediate effect is to increase dairy intervention prices to realistic levels. I recognise that export refunds are extremely expensive support measures.”