Task Force report due next week

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Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has welcomed reports which suggest that the EU’s Agricultural Markets Task Force will recommend measures to tackle so-called unfair trading practices (UTPs) and strengthen the position of farmers and growers in the supply chain.

The Task Force is expected to present its final report to the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan next week.

Commenting Mr. Nicholson (pictured below) said: “The European Commission’s Agricultural Markets Task Force was established by the Commissioner in response to increased market instability and price volatility. The 12 member group has focused on a number of key issues, including; market transparency, contractual relations in the food supply chain and farmers’ access to financial instruments.

“The group’s recommendations are to be formally presented to Commissioner Hogan next week. Reports relating to a draft report suggest the Task Force will propose measures to tackle unfair trading practices and improve price transparency.

“I believe that the power of the large retailers in the food supply chain has long been the ‘elephant in the room’ and is something I have urged the Task Force to address.

“For example producers are often under pressure to shoulder the cost of supermarket price wars and suppliers are still vulnerable to UTPs such as delayed payments and retrospective changes to contracts.

“In my view it is in the interests of everyone to ensure that farmers and growers are not exposed to UTPs as producers are the foundation of the entire food supply chain. I therefore look forward to studying the detail of the Task Force’s final report when it is published next week.”