The proposed agri-food regulator by the Irish government may not be as effective as expected, according to independent TD Michael McNamara. McNamara, a barrister and farmer, has proposed several amendments to the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill 2022, which is set to pass through the Dáil next week. Although McNamara welcomes the establishment of a regulator for the food chain, he stressed the need for the new office to have the “explicit power to increase transparency”. He claims that the regulator, as it stands, will be a “toothless tiger” that will only study and report data already in the public domain.
McNamara believes that there is little transparency in the relationship between processors and retailers. He proposes an amendment that requires more reporting by processors, particularly in regard to the discounts and bonuses paid for both in-spec and out-of-spec cattle. The amendment also calls for processors to disclose what they are paid by retailers and any conditionality, specifically around age demanded by the retailers. McNamara believes that this information needs to be taken out of the shadows, and light needs to be shone on it for the benefit of everybody in the food chain.
The TD’s proposal is based on a similar amendment passed by the US Congress in response to concerns about the power of processors there. McNamara has also submitted another amendment that mirrors a Spanish law. This amendment calls for the new regulator to work with Teagasc to determine the cost of production for basic food items and ban retailers from below-cost selling.
McNamara has also tabled an amendment that states that the new regulator should prevent the practice of unsold produce being returned without payment, which he claims is “crippling the Irish horticultural sector”. McNamara criticised the government’s decision to allocate only one hour for debate on the bill next week. He believes that farmers and food producers have waited long enough and that another hour or two would not make much difference if it meant that the bill was improved.
The proposed Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill 2022 aims to establish a regulator for the food chain in Ireland. The regulator will oversee the relationships between farmers, processors, and retailers. It will also have the power to investigate and enforce compliance with the regulations set out in the bill.
The bill aims to address issues such as unfair trading practices, lack of transparency, and the concentration of power in the food chain. The proposed legislation will also require the disclosure of information on prices, margins, and costs throughout the supply chain. It will also prohibit unfair trading practices, such as late payments and unilateral changes to contracts.
The bill has received support from various groups, including the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA). The IFA believes that the bill will help to address the power imbalances in the food chain and provide greater transparency for farmers. The IFA has also called for the regulator to have the power to impose fines and penalties for non-compliance with the regulations set out in the bill.
In conclusion, the proposed agri-food regulator in Ireland may not be as effective as expected, according to independent TD Michael McNamara. McNamara has proposed several amendments to the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill 2022, which is set to pass through the Dáil next week. The proposed legislation aims to establish a regulator for the food chain in Ireland and address issues such as unfair trading practices and lack of transparency. The bill has received support from various groups, including the Irish Farmers’ Association.