Fianna Fáil’s Agriculture spokesperson has called on the Government to expedite the publication of the Competition and Consumer Bill, which includes proposals for a code of conduct for the retail sector to insure transparency in the sector.
Éamon Ó Cuiv’s comments come following the publication of a survey, which found that 90% of people want to see a code of conduct established to ensure that farmers get a fair deal from supermarkets.
“What we need is a statutory code of conduct which will ensure farmers are paid a reasonable price for their goods, and at the same time will guarantee consumers are not paying over the odds for food. The Government has been sitting on proposals since it came into office. The fruit and vegetable price war at Christmas highlights the importance of such a code. Farmers must be given a fair deal for their produce if they are to remain viable”, remarked Deputy Ó Cuív.
“Many farmers are on the verge of going out of business, small family farms are being decimated, and below cost selling in large retail chains is exacerbating the problem. Family farms need to be protected if they are to survive, and a code of conduct for the retail sector would go a long way to easing that burden. This study, commissioned by Agri Aware, reveals that almost 8 in 10 people consider quality to be more important than price when it comes to food. This is evidence that consumers are prepared to pay a fair price for good quality produce.
“A code of conduct would protect farmers and consumers, by insuring a fair price on goods for both. It would eliminate the exploitation of food producers by large supermarkets and create a level playing field for the two. The Government has committed to creating a code of conduct for the retail sector; however Ministers have been slow to publish the necessary legislation. Their procrastination is continuing to put farms at risk, and is having a negative impact on the agriculture sector as a whole.