Jump to content

Long awaited transparency and food chain legislation has been introduced by the Minister McConalogue.

The Minister has established a new food chain authority, which will be known as the “Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri-Food Supply Chain”.

The office will:

  • Undertake price and market analysis for all sectors and produce reports that will be made available to stakeholders and the wider public. As the European Commission has recently introduced new market reporting obligations on agri-food businesses, including for example reporting on the selling prices of fresh milk and fat filled powder (full details can be read here), the data collected will be used by the authority to carry out its analysis.
  • Assume responsibility for being the State’s designated enforcement authority on unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the food supply chain. In future, complaints from suppliers will be made to this authority and offenders pursued through the legal system, or through alternative dispute settlement mechanisms.
  • Initiate codes of practice and guidelines, as well as raise awareness and make recommendations concerning fairness and transparency in the agricultural and food supply chain. There is an opportunity offered here to potentially address the market disfunction we see in the fresh dairy sector for example, through the development of a sensible code of good practice for the sector.

The office will be led by a board of 6 people which will include two primary producers, and it will have a Chief Executive. It is to be funded through a fee on those making complaints to the authority, but also through levies imposed on buyers, which will likely include dairy co-operatives. No estimated cost of these levies has yet been stated.

This new draft legislation has also created the opportunity to amend and expand the scope of the EU Directive on Unfair Trading Practices- to cover an extended group of suppliers or to add to the list of practices considered to be unfair and prohibited. However, while the draft legislation provides the flexibility for this to be done at a point in future, it does not explicitly change the scope of the current rules for the moment. ICOS will continue to call for this option to be utilised and for the scope of protection of the UTP Directive to be opened up to include all suppliers.

No date is available yet as to when the legislation will come into force as it must first be passed by the Oireachtas.

The Minister will chair a seminar on the new office and enforcement authority on 5th May in the Department’s Backweston Campus. Participants can register to attend at www.utp.gov.ie/

Alison Graham – European Affairs Executive