Fine Gael TD for Wicklow and Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture and Food, Andrew Doyle, has welcomed the publication of the Competition and Consumer Protection Bill 2014, which will finally see action regarding the long-standing issue of fair trade in the food chain, for the food producers and processors in Ireland. The overdue legislation has been published in response to the 2013 Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s cross-party report entitled, ‘Increasing equity and transparency in producer-processor-retailer relationships’.
“I’m glad to see this legislation is finally being published after considerable delays drafting the technical aspects of the Bill. I have been prioritising this issue since I was first elected to our national parliament. My colleague, Deputy Michael Creed and I published a Private Members’ Bill nearly five years ago entitled the Food (Fair Trade and Information) Bill dealing with some of the issues that have now been incorporated into Government legislation.
“Farmers throughout the country have spoken to me about the unfair practices they are facing from major retailers, and I believe this new legislation will address many of their concerns. It contains a number of very positive benefits for both consumers and suppliers, and the regulations will re-balance the supplier – retailer relationship, enforceable in law.
“Statutory regulations are to be introduced to ensure fair contracts and fair trading conditions from suppliers and retailers for producers and processors. These regulations are being put in place to ensure a level playing field for all stakeholders in the market. This will be welcomed by all the players in the agri-food sector, who have been penalised due to the unfair tactics being employed by some major retailers. This new legislation specifically targets the groceries sector by setting rules about how suppliers and retailers must interact.
“The legislation will improve the situation for consumers, for jobs and for food sustainability. Retailers will no longer be able to demand goods at unrealistic prices from suppliers, or change the terms of a contract unilaterally. Practises such as the charging of listing and promotion fees to suppliers can and must now be controlled and regulated under this legislation, thus ensuring a more transparent and fair relationship between supplier and retailer. This practice which has put small suppliers in particular at a disadvantage, and was highlighted by several of the stakeholders at the Committee hearings we held in the Oireachtas.
“Additionally, the public sector will continue to be slimmed down, effectively merging the Consumer and Competition Agencies to create a powerful new watchdog to protect consumers, which will be followed with stronger penalties being put in place to prosecute wrongdoing and combat higher pricing.
“This new legislation is a very positive development for both consumers and suppliers throughout Ireland. Good business is based on fair business, and efficient producers deserve fair contracts. The proposed Competition and Consumer Protection Bill will establish a transparent and fair trading standard in the grocery sector in Ireland for the benefit of all, and I look forward to debating some of the finer points of the legislation in the Dáil in the near future”.
Note to Editors:
Deputy Andrew Doyle’s Bill with Deputy Michael Creed, the Food (Fair Trade and Information) Bill 2009 [Private Members’ Bill is available here:
2013 Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, “Report on the Grocery Goods Sector ‘Increasing equity and transparency in producer-processor-retailer relationships’” which is available here:
The Competition and Consumer Protection Bill 2014 that was just published by the Government is available here: http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=25745&&CatID=59