Proposed directive needs to cover UTPs employed by meat processors – ICOS

The proposed directive on unfair trading practices (UTPs) needs to be extended to cover the practices used by meat processors to penalise farmers, according to the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society’s (ICOS’s) Alison Graham.

The directive was the focus of today’s (Tuesday, October 16) meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Agriculture Committee.

Representatives from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), ICOS, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and Retail Ireland were all present at the meeting.

The proposed directive is the first-ever action by the European Commission to address the issue of UTPs in the food supply chain.

Addressing the committee, Graham outlined a number of issues which ICOS has particular concerns about. One of the concerns which ICOS feels needs to be addressed in the final agreed text of the directive relates to meat processors.

“ICOS has long highlighted the unfair trading practices Irish farmers are subject to by meat processors in this country.

In particular, the penalties imposed by the Quality Payment Scheme (QPS) and more than four movements between farms prior to slaughter – or a movement within the last 70 days before slaughter.

“These issues are not addressed in the list of UTPs proposed by the commission’s draft directive,” she said.

This was a concern shared by the president of the ICMSA, Pat McCormack.

Concluding, Graham called for the list of prohibited UTPs to be extended to cover these practices which – she said – were “subverting the free trade of factory-fit cattle in Ireland” and “stifling competition“.