MEPs in call for a fair deal

Jim Nicholson
Jim Nicholson

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson met with colleagues in the European Parliament this week to discuss how to ensure a fair deal for farmers.

The Agriculture and Internal Market Committees of the European Parliament are both considering how to address unfair trading practices, particularly how to ensure fairness in the food supply chain.

The Ulster Unionist MEP met with Richard Ashworth MEP a fellow member of the Agriculture Committee, Dan Dalton MEP from the Internal Market Committee and Vicky Ford MEP who Chairs the committee to discuss a joint approach.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Nicholson said: “Tackling the imbalance of power between producers and the large retailers has long been the elephant in the room. Our meeting this week was to discuss various ways of addressing this issue and ensuring that farmers and growers are treated fairly. We discussed if existing tools such as producer organisations should be used to a greater degree to increase farmers’ bargaining power, whether an EU-wide mandatory approach was needed plus the possible benefits of increased transparency in strengthening the hand of producers.

“The UK has led the way with the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) but this only relates to the relationship between the large retailers and direct suppliers, not primary producers. The GCA has of course just launched an investigation into Tesco, the ombudsman’s first investigation. This will be an important test of the office of the GCA and the powers the organisation has been granted. The EFRA Committee also recently called on the power of the GCA to be extended to cover dairy farmers.

“The investigation into Tesco by the GCA will be monitored closely as it moves forward over the next few months by MEPs in both Committees as we seek to come forward with pragmatic proposals to help ensure producers are treated fairly.”