The position of farmers in the food chain must be strengthened to ensure they get a fair return for their produce, according to Sen Michelle Mulherin.
“The weak bargaining position which the farmer currently occupies in the food supply chain and the problems that this causes for his income and the sustainability of the profession is something which I have raised on many occasions,” the Mayo Fine Gael senator said this week.
“Unfortunately, farmers are currently at the mercy of big meat factories and multiple retailers who call the shots. Up until recently the price of producing a litre of milk on the farm was higher than the price the farmer gets for his commodity, which is both untenable financially and demoralising for farmers.
“I welcome a new report from the Agricultural Markets Task Force, chaired by former Dutch minister for agriculture and university professor, Cees Veerman, which has been presented to EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development, Phil Hogan,” she added. “The task force was set up to address increased concern regarding global developments in the food supply chain and, in particular, the position of the farmer in that chain. It was asked to discuss a number of relevant issues all with a view to improving the position of farmers in the food chain.
“The report concludes that the policy framework governing the supply chain can and should be further improved. Among the other conclusions, the report calls for new rules at EU level to cover certain unfair trading practices, as well as the implementation of effective enforcement regimes in member states such as through the use of an adjudicator. Other recommendations include increasing market transparency, enhancing cooperation among farmers, facilitating farmers’ access to finance and improving the take-up of risk management tools.
“I’m pleased to see that the EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development, Phil Hogan, is committed to prioritising consideration of the report’s recommendations, with a view to delivering the appropriate policy, in line with its continuous support to the agricultural sector. I believe we need to act now to ensure that farming in Ireland has a viable future.”