The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it welcomes the opening of the European Commission’s food supply chain consultation, aimed at tackling the issues that leave farmers the weakest players along the chain from field to fork.
“We have always argued that it is unfair to expect the producer to bear the brunt of the unfairness within the supply chain and addressing this has always been a key issue for us,” said UFU president Barclay Bell.
“Farmers want to be valued players and to be fairly treated and represented at all levels.
“They are a vital first stage of an integrated supply chain and the benefits from farming to the economy here cannot be under-estimated.
“A flourishing agriculture drives confidence. The rural economy in Northern Ireland depends on the continuing success of the food and farming industries,” he said.
The UFU have already submitted its response to the EU commissions related Inception Impact Assessment (IIA) on the functioning of the food supply chain and it will now feed into the EU wide public consultation on how to make the EU food supply chain fairer with the European Commission committed to publishing its resulting proposals in spring 2018.
“Our aim is to see in place a collaborative and comprehensive supply chain. One that delivers profitability to the farmer and stable pricing to consumers,” said Mr Bell.
The UFU was responding to the recent launch by the European Commission of an EU-wide public consultation on how to make the EU food supply chain fairer.
Farmers, citizens and other interested parties are invited to share their views on the functioning of the food supply chain through an online consultation that runs until 17 November.
There are indications that the added value in the food supply chain is not adequately distributed across all levels of the chain due, for instance, to differences in bargaining power between smaller and thus more vulnerable operators including farmers and small businesses, and their economically stronger and highly concentrated commercial partners.
Agriculture and rural development Commissioner Phil Hogan said: “Farmers are the first link in the chain and without them, there would not be food to process, sell and consume. However, we notice that they often remain the weakest link.