A Fair Deal for Farmers

4th November, 2010

Fine Gael has detailed plans to halt the current trend where retailers are making massive profits at the expense of both farmers and consumers.

Retailers are paying farmers poor prices for their produce and failing to pass on price reductions to consumers.

Fine Gael believes that farmers should receive a fair price for their produce and consumers should have access to competitively priced groceries.
Farmers have been hit by very difficult market conditions in the past year with a fall off in prices for farm produce, severe weather conditions, Government cuts to farm gate schemes and a 12% contraction of agrifood exports in 2009, at a loss of €1bn to the economy.

In addition to these challenges, there are reports that large retailers are engaging in cloak and dagger trading practices, demanding unfair payments from producers for stocking their products.An estimated €160m in “Hello Money” is being paid to large supermarket chains by Irish suppliers annually, jeopardising thousands of Irish agri-business jobs all over the country. This impacts on the 230,000 people working in the agri-food industry.

This Government has failed to acknowledge that there is an issue and has dragged its heels on taking action to assist farmers and consumers in the face of retailer pressure. Government recently u-turned on its earlier position, saying a statutory code of conduct and a supermarket ombudsman will be introduced but Fine Gael’s proposals go further to encourage fairness and transparency.

Illegal Practices
Fine Gael has published proposals which would outlaw illegal practices in the grocery sector, giving farmers and consumers access to fair prices. The Fine Gael Food (Fair Trade and Information) Bill 2009 identifies and outlaws practices which are threatening employment and investment in the food industry and serve no benefit to the consumer. It introduces measures which will bring a level of transparency to a sector shrouded in secrecy.

Our Bill bans retailers from demanding payment from a supplier for advertising or displaying grocery goods, or for providing selling space for grocery goods in a retail outlet.

Our Bill requires all retailers and suppliers to maintain a statement of supply which details the terms and conditions of any agreement undertaken and requires retailers or suppliers to give access to the Competition Authority to such statements if requested.

Our Bill imposes an obligation on the Competition Authority to detail turnover and gross net profit for each multiple retailer in the State in its annual report and gives the Authority powers under the Competition Act to secure this information if it is withheld.

Our Bill empowers the National Consumer Agency to publish an annual report detailing the extent of sourcing by multiple retailers of food products sourced in the State.

Fine Gael’s proposals will introduce transparency and clarity to the industry and will give Irish suppliers the opportunity to compete with other suppliers on a level playing field to provide consumers with access to top quality products at competitive prices.

Click here for details of Bill – insert link here
For details on all Fine Gael policies click here