MEPs to vote on strategy to block unfair trading practices

The European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee will this evening (October 1) vote on measures to stop ‘Unfair Trading Practices’ (UTPs) in the food supply chain.

MEP and First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness – who is a lead negotiator on the legislation for the European People’s Party – confirmed that the ballot is set to take place.

The initiative to stop UTPs has been spearheaded by the Midlands North West representative over a long number of years.

She described the move as “a first step” in recognising that the food supply chain is “unbalanced” and stated that many of the practices engaged in by the powerful, “harm farmers” and others that lack power.

Buyer Power

Speaking in Strasbourg, McGuinness – who is also a member of the Agriculture Committee – said the directive will give farmers the possibility to “complain in confidence” where they believe that buyers are engaging in UTPs.

“The vote this evening is an important step in the process and will guide the parliament’s work in its negotiations with member states on the legislation.

“Already several member states do have national legislation on UTPs in the food supply chain; our aim is to ensure that there is EU wide legislation and that it is effectively implemented.

For too long we have seen, and continue to see, a concentration of power at buyer level, which results in a concentration of power.

“This results in an uneven situation whereby farmers have little influence in the marketplace and can be subject to practices which cut their margins in ways which are blatantly unfair,” McGuinness said.

Investigative Authority

She outlined that the move is a step towards a more sustainable food supply chain – allowing farmers to address concerns about how they are being treated to an authority which “must act and investigate”.

We need a more sustainable food supply chain and UTPs work against this.

“We need fair margins to be earned by everyone in the chain in order for sufficient investment to be made to meet demanding challenges – including environmental and climate issues.”

McGuinness added: “There is a determination to have this legislation agreed by early next year and for member states to start implementing it as soon as possible.”

However, she also warned that there is still opposition to the legislation with efforts being made to thwart it.