Thursday, 18 February 2021

Questions (324)

John McGuinness

Question:

324. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the beef task force meetings will be live streamed in the interest of transparency and accountability; if he will consider appointing an independent regulator for the industry; if an analysis has been carried out by his Department with regard to such an appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9228/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Beef Taskforce was established in 2019 to provide the leadership to develop a sustainable pathway for the future of the beef sector. The Taskforce provides a robust implementation structure for commitments entered into in the Beef Sector Agreement of 15th September 2019, with timelines and stakeholder engagement. Minutes and documents relevant to the meetings of the Taskforce are published on my Department's website in the interests of full transparency.

With regard to the proposed appointment of an independent regulator for the meat sector, as the Deputy will be 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 authority, whose remit will include the meat 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 authority will not have any 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 authority prior to the primary legislation being enacted.