LAOIS/OFFALY TD Barry Cowen has called on the Government to introduce fair trade legislation without delay to ensure that farmers and food producers get a fair price for their produce.
Mr Cowen stated that the urgent need for laws governing the relationship between retailers and suppliers was highlighted in a Fianna Fáil Private Members motion on Agriculture which was passed in the Dáil this week.
Deputy Cowen said, “Thousands of farmers protested in Dublin this week to raise awareness of the need for fair trade legislation. The protest was in response to the Competition Authority’s raid on head offices of the Irish Farmers’ Association last week. The IFA was raided under competition legislation because it was trying to protect prices for producers.“
He stated that this was further evidence that fair trade legislation was long overdue.
“We must ensure that the laws which have been promised for so long will be brought before the Dáil as soon as possible. The farming community has been waiting for too long for a time when multiples do not enjoy such power to drive prices down.
“Fianna Fáil introduced a successful Private Members Motion on Agriculture in the Dáil this week, calling on the government to recognise that agriculture and the agri-food is the most important indigenous industry in this country and will play a crucial role in creating jobs and boosting exports. It was a constructive motion establishing the basis for the future of the agriculture sector in this country.”
He continued, “As part of this motion, Fianna Fáil has urged the Government to introduce fair trade legislation that will establish a mandatory code of practice governing the relationship between retailers and suppliers. We recognise the importance of ensuring that there is a balanced relationship between the various players in the grocery goods sector, particularly given the importance of this sector to the national economy.
“The dairy farmers’ share of the retail price of liquid milk has fallen from 42% in 1996 to 26% in 2009. However, the Competition Authority’s raid last week indicates that its key concern is to do with the price of milk for consumers as opposed to producer exploitation by large retailers. I want to ensure that the needs of farmers and food producers are not forgotten in the push for affordable prices for consumers,” Deputy Cowen concluded.