Progress needed to tackle unfair trading practices – MEP

Negotiations to bring much-needed rebalancing in the relationship between farmers and commercial buyers of produce continue, according to MEP Matt Carthy.

As a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Carthy has been appointed to work on amending the initial proposals on Unfair Trading Practices from the European Commission.

Carthy commented on the matter earlier today (Friday, September 14).

“The proposals from Commissioner Phil Hogan on Unfair Trading Practices, while welcome as a first step, are insufficient to deliver the necessary improvement in the bargaining power of farmers when dealing with massive retail chains,” he said.

“I have proposed 24 amendments to strengthen the proposal, and we have now reached the stage of negotiating compromises between the political groups in the European Parliament.

‘Critical time’

“This is a critical time as I fear that the supermarket lobbies have been working hard to convince some political groups to stick as close to the Commission’s unambitious proposals as possible.

They are determined to ensure that their profit margins are not touched by this legislation and that the final report does not affect their ability to demand prejudicial terms against the farmer.

Carthy said he is “committed to ensuring the agreed position of the parliament protects farmers and allows them to receive a fair price for the product”.

At a minimum, supermarkets must be legally prevented from paying farmers less than the cost of production for their goods, the MEP for Midlands-North West said.

“Under current circumstances farmers are often forced to sell their products for less than it costs them to produce – small wonder then that direct payments can make up 100% of some Irish farmers’ incomes.

The proposed cuts to the CAP budget increases the urgency to mitigate the weakness of our primary producers in the food chain.

The Sinn Fein MEP said he hopes Irish farmers are “paying close attention to the actions of their MEPs, and their respective political groups”, when progressive amendments aimed at strengthening the position of farmers come before the agriculture committee and plenary in the European Parliament.