The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack has said that farmers are “reserving their judgment” following the establishment of the Agri-Food Regulator today (Wednesday, December 13), to see if it provides food price transparency.

He said that while all will welcome the establishment of the office, there is “danger” that the board will “stand by wringing their hands when confronted with obvious unfairness”.

McCormack said that from “day one” the regulator board “must send out a strong signal” on its ability to enforce regulations for the “confidence” of farmers.

At the launch of the board today, the newly appointed chief executive officer (CEO), Niamh Lenehan said that the work of the regulator does not extend to changing consumer prices, but will work with “business-to-business relationships” in the agricultural and food supply chain.

The newly appointed chair of the board, Joe Healy said that there are primary producers on the board, and it will continue to engage with farm organisations on what farmers need.

The board currently has nine members of staff, with recruitment ongoing.

Food regulator

McCormack said the food regulator should “publish monthly the prices received by the primary producer, the processor, the retailer and any other actors in the supply chain in a way that takes into account the uniqueness of each food product”.

McCormack described the price paid to dairy farmers and by consumers as “transparent”, but said what the processor receives and secondary processors, such as baby food manufacturers “is not”.

“The new regulator has an opportunity to make a real difference and food price transparency is going to be the key initial test, both in terms of overall supply-chain fairness and of producing sustainable food. 

“Farmers have received many false promises on transparency and we sincerely hope that the new regulator will end that lamentable record in a very constructive way,” McCormack said.