As the Deputy is aware, there is a commitment in the Programme for Government to the establishment of a new authority, to be called the National Food Ombudsman (NFO) or similar, to enforce the Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) Directive. The NFO, whose remit will include the beef sector, will have a specific role in analysing and reporting on price and market data in Ireland. It is important to be aware, however, that the Ombudsman will not have a role in determining price.
Establishment of the NFO is ongoing and firstly requires the drafting of a statutory instrument to transpose the UTP directive before the deadline of May 2021. Legislation is then required to establish the new authority. It is intended that there will be a national consultation process on the functions of the NFO prior to the primary legislation being enacted.
With regard to the work of the Beef Taskforce on transparency, the completion of the three market transparency studies commissioned by my Department will be an important step towards improving visibility of the complex supply chain which is integral in fostering trust and enhancing supply chain relationships. These studies will act as an important starting point for driving increased transparency. It is more important than ever that we all work together given the unique set of challenges currently faced by the sector. Continued strong and constructive engagement in the Beef Taskforce is key to meeting these challenges