McConalogue calls for appointment of Irish food tsar

Fianna Fail’s agriculture Spokesman Charlie McConalogue is calling for the appointment of a food tsar, or ombudsman, in Ireland.

“This approach has already been taken in 23 out of the 28 EU member states,” he said.

“And it is an approach that is working. The success achieved by the UK food ombudsman in the UK over the past number of years is a case in point.

“But there is also a requirement for the work of the various appointees to be harmonised at EU level and I welcome the proposals now coming from EU Commissioner Phil Hogan in this regard.

An EU agri food ombudsman could play a key role in making sure that farmers do get their fair share of the money coming into the food chain at retail level.

McConalogue said that the procurement and trading activities of the supermarkets must be made more transparent.

“And to make this happen will require the establishment of a food ombudsman’s office with real power when it comes to investigating the way that supermarkets go about their business.

McConalogue’s comments follow the recent comments made by Phil Hogan to the effect that the EU will look seriously at delivering higher levels of transparency within Europe’s agri food chain.

Speaking in Brussels recently he said there is a need to identify 2017 as a year for action to deliver real improvements in the food chain.

For too long, the producer has been the main shock absorber of prices rises and falls.  This is not sustainable, as if we drive the producer to the wall, we will not have a product to sell.

“There is a justifiable concern that farmers, who have less of a cushion with the removal of policy tools such as quotas, have become the main shock absorber in the supply chain in relation to market risks such as price volatility or prolonged periods of low prices.

“As a result, the longstanding question of the food supply chain and how to improve its functioning has become a topic of discussion among key policymakers and interest groups across Europe,” he said.