The Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri-Food Supply Chain will “have real teeth that will help to protect our farm families and primary producers who are the bedrock of our rural communities”.
That is according to Minister Charlie McConalogue, who believes that the need for such an office “has never been greater”.
The minister is of the view that agriculture requires a new independent office that will be a “leading” voice in promoting and, “crucially”, enforcing, the principles of fairness and transparency in the agricultural and food supply chain.
Agri-Food Supply Chain
During an Oireachtas meeting of the Joint Committee on the Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the General Scheme of the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill 2022, the minister outlined the four ways in which the new office will perform its duties.
- Engage “proactively” with retailers, processors, wholesalers, farmers, fishers, and others on matters impacting fairness and transparency in the ag-food supply chain;
- Perform a price and market analysis and reporting function to “bring greater transparency”. It will provide regular reports on price and market information on all sectors in the agri-food supply chain. According to the minister, it will publish these reports. Furthermore, it will be able to commission reports on price and market information on the ag-food supply chain;
- Responsibility for ensuring buyers in the agri-food supply chain do not employ unfair practices in their business-to-business relationship with suppliers. The bill provides “wide-ranging” powers for authorised officers to investigate UTPs.
- “An advocate, an enforcer and an acolyte” for farmers and fishers and other small food businesses. The minister said the office will improve their position and bring “greater transparency and fairness” all along the supply chain.
- CEO to oversee office’s day-to-day running;
- Will report to a board appointed by minister;
- Board: Chairperson and five ordinary members – two primary producers.