Sinn Féín spokesperson for Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, has stated that the new Agri-Food Regulator (An Rialálaí Agraibhia) must be able to address anti-competitive practices and ensure transparency in the Agri-Food Supply Chain.
Legislation was finalised and enacted in July, and the new Agri-Food Regulator will be established over the coming months.
However, Teachta Kerrane has warned that the Regulator currently does not have the remit to address anti-competitive practices in the Agri-Food supply chain, despite Sinn Féin’s efforts to ensure it would be equipped to do so.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“The establishment of an Agri-Food Regulator is welcome and much-needed. I understand the Minister has now proceeded with seeking expressions of interest from candidates to form the board of the Regulator.
“Sinn Féin put forward amendments to require that at least three of the seven ordinary board members must be primary producers, and it is positive that this was accepted and is included in the legislation which underpins the new Agri-Food Regulator.
“Key amendments to ensure the Regulator can obtain key data and information were also secured, which is positive for fairness and transparency in the agri-food supply chain.
“However, concerns remain that the Regulator will not have the ability to address anti-competitive practices and cartel-like behaviours in the agri-food supply chain when it is up and running.
“This is an issue that we have heard loud and clear throughout the consultation and legislative process. Farmers want a Regulator that is able to tackle anti-competitive practices and ensure transparency across the agri-food supply chain. This was supposed to be one of the main objectives of the legislation.
“Despite Sinn Féin’s efforts to ensure these powers were included in the scope of the new Regulator, the Minister refused to do so.
“Myself and my colleague Matt Carthy put forward amendments to include that focus on competition as part of the scope of the Regulator, but they were rejected by the Minister and his Government at every stage of the process.
“We want to see an Agri-Food Regulator that is equipped to act on unfair and anti-competitive practices. That we have a Regulator that cannot do so flies in the face of a clear ask from farmers and primary producers.
“This is a focus that I will continue to look into and push for as the Regulator is established over the coming months.”