The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has become the latest farm organisation to welcome the signing into Irish law of new EU rules on price transparency.

Pat McCormack, the association’s president, said today (Tuesday, September 7) that the development was “a long overdue step in the right direction”.

However, he argued that the success of the new rules will depend on how they’re implemented.

“Anyone with an interest can instantly find out the price paid to farmers and the price paid to the consumer, but the gap in between is a complete mystery known only to those in the industry.

“If the transparency regulations are to be in any way meaningful, they will simply have to get behind the “commercially sensitive” barrier and publish all the prices paid by the various links in the food supply chain,” McCormack commented.

He continued: “Let’s finally see who is getting what and start dealing on the basis of clear facts. There is absolutely no reason why these figures cannot be published with the ‘commercially sensitive’ issue dealt with by anonymising the data.”

The ICMSA president claimed that the links in the middle of the food supply chain have previously been able to dictate prices paid to farmers and the cost to the consumer “with only themselves knowing the full picture”.

McCormack said the new rules can end this “if properly applied”.

“So may of these corporations are spending enormous budgets aimed at ‘green washing’ their business profile and polishing ‘sustainability’ credentials… The best way of ensuring sustainability on food production would be by paying the farmer a sustainable price,” he remarked.

On the farm inputs side, he noted that farm input inflation is “becoming a serious issue [and] a degree of transparency in the supply of farm inputs now needs to be considered”.

“We need to know who is adding what to the price we receive on the food leaving our farms and we need to know who has added what to the prices we pay for our farm inputs. Both are mysteries at present.

“It’s time that the mystery of the margins was cracked and that can only happen if the new law is applied rigorously and energetically,” the ICMSA president concluded.