A new Fine Gael bill due to be published this week is expected to tackle the practice of ‘hello money’ which has helped supermarket giants and meat factories cream a disportionate level of profits on milk, beef, and sheep meat.
Fine Gael Galway East Deputy Paul Connaughton said this week that the new bill will “outlaw what is termed as ‘hello money’” and thereby prevent supermarkets from prising large sums of cash from suppliers who compete with each other to get a foothold for their products on the supermarket shelves. He said that the farming community could not understand why there has been no intervention by the Government.
“With the world price for milk at an all time low it seems outrageous that, on a carton of milk, the farmer receives about a third of the price, the processors/ distributors get about a third while the supermarket giants also pocket a third. At this point in time all dairy farmers who are paid an average of 20 cents a litre for their milk are working for nothing. In other words it costs more than 20 cents a litre to produce the milk.
Regarding the meat factories Deputy Connaughton said: “Farmers in Northern Ireland and in the UK are getting over €100 per head for comparable quality cattle and, even if the currency differences are taken into account, Irish farmers are being fleeced at the moment.
“In time of great pressure on farmers’ incomes it is now incumbent on the Government to ‘put manners on’ the profiteering elements that operate beyond the farm gate. We are forever being told that most of the farm price fluctuations are world related and that the Government cannot control these matters. However the matters that can be tackled by the Government are left in abeyance just in the same way as the big builders and property developers were left to do their own thing with disastrous results for everyone,” concluded Deputy Connaughton.