Cabinet approval secured for bill to set up food chain transparency office

Cabinet approval secured for bill to set up food chain transparency office

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has secured Cabinet approval for a long-awaited bill to establish an Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri-Food Supply Chain.

The Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill 2022, when enacted, will bring the formation of a new independent statutory authority aiming to bring greater transparency along the food supply chain.

The office will perform a price and market analysis and reporting function, publishing reports on price and market information on all sectors in agriculture.

“Events of recent weeks reminded us all of the fragility of the agri-food supply chain, and it is now more important than ever to ensure that there is an independent voice to promote and indeed enforce the principles of fairness and transparency in that chain,” said Mr McConalogue.

“It will engage with retailers, processors, wholesalers, farmers, fishers, and others on matters affecting fairness and transparency in the agri-food supply chain.

“The office will also, as the state’s designated unfair trading practices enforcement authority, be responsible for ensuring that buyers in the agri-food supply chain do not implement unfair practices in their business-to-business relationships with suppliers.”

He added that the new office will be an “advocate” for farmers, fishers, and other small food businesses to help them “improve their position”.

The Irish Farmers’ Association has said that this office will be “crucial” in ensuring a fair share of the consumer euro goes to farmers, and in regulating unfair trading practices.

“We have waited a long time for this,” said IFA president Tim Cullinan.

“We look forward to seeing the draft legislation and to having genuine input into what powers the office will have.”

Mr Cullinan said the office must have “full powers of investigation”, along with being able to compel actors in the chain to provide them with “real data and back-up documentation”.

“Just doing market analysis based on publicly available information will not cut it,” he added.

The IFA has held a series of demonstrations outside retailers calling for price increases for suppliers to address the input cost hikes at farm level.