Fianna Fáil Agricultural Spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív travelled to Brussels last Wednesday to urge the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, to deliver greater price and gross margin transparency in the EU food sector.
The Fianna Fáil submission is designed to ensure that farmers get a fair deal in relation to the prices they are being paid for their produce by large retailers and multi-nationals.
Speaking in the aftermath of the meeting, Deputy Ó Cuív said that he had held very fruitful discussions about his proposals with Commissioner Hogan’s cabinet: “I emphasised the need for urgent action at European level to legislate for full disclosure of profit margins enjoyed by the major food retailers,” he said. “Many factors are influencing the market income of European and Irish farmers. These include price volatility, uncertainties regarding energy markets, increased extreme weather events, and increased competition from international suppliers.”
Mr Ó Cuív stated that it was abundantly clear that farmers were losing out because of an unequal balance of power between the large supermarket multiples, family farmers, and producers: “The key to improving margins for farmers is to bring about a properly functioning EU food sector, both at processing and retailing levels. The high price Irish consumers are being forced to pay can be partly attributed to inefficiencies within the supply chain, which is mainly caused by retailers retaining profit margins three times greater in Ireland than elsewhere.”
Ó Cuív revealed that he had called on Mr Hogan to introduce specific EU legislation to make it mandatory for food retailing firms that exceed certain thresholds to supply information and data on their profit margins on specific food items in each of the member states where they operate in: “These proposals would be relatively simple to implement and would effectively address a Europe-wide problem at EU level. Meanwhile, greater transparency would prevent the abuse of the dominant position currently enjoyed by the large retailers. I look forward to continued cooperation with Commissioner Hogan on this issue, which is seriously affecting farmers’ ability to get a fair price for their produce in the food supply chain.”