The Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) Enforcement Authority has said a perceived “fear factor” is leading to a low level of complaints, according to independent TD for Laois-Offaly, Deputy Carol Nolan.

Head of the UTP Enforcement Authority Division in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Noel Collins said the relatively low number of complaints received to date is “not surprising”.

Remarks were made in response to the issue raised by Deputy Nolan, who sought to clarify why so few farmers and producers were engaging with the new trading protections regime.

The UTP Enforcement Authority has received six complaints to date, however four of these were outside the scope of UTP regulations and two are still being assessed, the independent TD said.

“It was also made clear to me that there is still a significant level of concern and even ‘fear’ among farmers and producers when it comes to having their rights vindicated or protected.

“I accept that the UTP Enforcement Authority is actively and constructively engaging with farmers to try and address these concerns, and that is something I want to warmly welcome,” the independent TD said.

Deputy Nolan added that the authority will ensure that any threat or act of retaliation by a buyer, arising from a supplier exercising their legal rights, will result in the strongest possible sanctions against the buyer.

Major retailers are required to submit implementation reports to the UTP Enforcement Authority and must provide evidence of how they are ensuring compliance with the new regulations.

All businesses will also have to nominate a compliance officer to deal with the authority, with risk-based inspections of the largest businesses beginning later this year, according to the deputy.

“Farmers and producers will no longer tolerate being walked on when it comes to unfair pricing,” independent TD Carol Nolan said.