Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has criticised the recent decision of the European Commission not to come forward with legislation to protect producers from Unfair Trading Practices.
Mr Nicholson also called on the members of the recently established Agricultural Markets Task Force to ensure the group brings forward its own proposals to strengthen the position of farmers and growers in the supply chain.
Commenting Mr Nicholson said: “The main aim of the European Commission’s Agricultural Markets Task Force, which was only recently established, is to bring forward proposals to help improve the position of farmers in the food supply chain.
“The 12 member group is due to report back to the European Commission this autumn with its recommendations. I believe it is important that the Task Force’s members thoroughly and independently assess how the food supply chain operates and how risk and reward is shared along it as they draw up their proposals.
“For example retailers can and do join together to boost their bargaining and buying power. I continue to have concerns that producers are for example the ones who are under pressure to shoulder the cost of supermarket price wars or so-called ‘loss leaders’ and that suppliers are vulnerable to unfair practices such as delayed payments as was highlighted by the Groceries Code Adjudicator’s recent investigation into Tesco.
“It is in the interests of everyone to ensure that farmers and growers are not exposed to Unfair Trading Practices as producers are the foundation of the entire food supply chain – this is even more important at a time when producers in all sectors are already facing difficulties due to a range of factors.
“It is therefore vital that the Agricultural Markets Task Force members come to their own conclusions as to how best to strengthen the position of producers in the supply chain and ensure that farmers and growers are not exposed to unfair trading practices by processors or retailers, irrespective of the European Commission’s recent announcement.”