Cllr. Jennifer Cuffe, Fianna Fail’s Wicklow General Election candidate has called for the Competition Authority to investigate anti-competitive and monopolistic practices in the Irish food and processing sector that benefit neither the consumer nor the farmer.
Speaking following a meeting with concerned Wicklow farmers Cuffe said, “The agricultural sector has been helping the economy to recover significantly yet prices paid to farmers for meat, milk, horticulture and arable produce have still not increased. Despite this, the consumer has not seen a drop in prices. It is quite obvious that somewhere in the middle, there is a killing being made and it is at the expense of the producer and the consumer. This indicates a very real problem for the agriculture sector in Ireland.
“Listening to the farmers and agri-producers in Wicklow, I am very worried about the small number of players now dominating the food processing and rendering sector of the economy. This is of great concern to farmers across the country.
“One individual now effectively controls 30% of the Irish beef industry, 40% in sheep and over half of the rendering sector. That has to give rise to concerns. One man has a lesser share of control of Irish print and broadcast media and there are legitimate worries about undue influence. Yet agriculture is not receiving the same attention.
“Fianna Fáil has clearly outlined a policy solution in the form of a “Groceries Code Adjudicator”, similar to the one which operates in the UK, which enshrines the protection of primary producers in national law and brings fairness to the food supply chain.
“Fianna Fáil believes in providing a clear pathway to secure fair prices and increased profitability for farmers, while ensuring our rural communities are not left behind by this anti-rural government. This consolidation of our food producing industries by one individual is symptomatic of this government’s commitment to having a recovery for the privileged few, rather than a recovery for all, which Fianna Fáil is committed to.”