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Regulatory Bodies

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 20 May 2021

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Questions (60)

Paul Murphy

Question:

60. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to establish an independent regulator for the meat industry to address instability in the sector. [27018/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

As the Deputy will be aware, there is a commitment in the Programme for Government for the establishment of a new authority to be called the National Food Ombudsman (NFO) or similar, to enforce the Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) Directive. A two stage approach is being undertaken to deliver the commitment.

Firstly, on April 28th I signed Statutory Instrument No. 198 of 2021 which sets out the Regulations to give effect in Irish law to EU Directive No. 2019/633 on Unfair Trading Practices in business-to-business relationships in the agricultural and food supply chain.

These Regulations will come into effect from 1st July 2021. The Regulations apply to agreements for the supply of agri-food products.

One of the key principles of the UTP Directive is to protect farmers and other weaker suppliers of agricultural and food products against stronger buyers. These Regulations will help to provide that protection and are a significant step in progressing towards a more even playing field for our agricultural producers. The Enforcement Authority required by the Directive will, pending the establishment of the new Office, operate in the Department. The Authority will have the necessary statutory powers to investigate complaints, carry out investigations on its own initiative and initiate legal proceedings for breaches of the Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) prohibited under the Directive.

Secondly, the establishment of the new Office requires primary legislation. The new Office, whose remit will include the beef sector, when established will have a specific role in analysing and reporting on price and market data in Ireland and will also incorporate the UTP Enforcement Authority functions In addition to establishing the new Office, the primary legislation may introduce rules that go beyond those included in the UTP Directive. It is important to be aware, however, that the Office will not be able to determine commodity prices.

A public consultation on the primary legislation needed to establish the new Office of a National Food Ombudsman or Regulator. was launched late last month and will be open until 26th May 2021 and all submissions under this process are welcome and will be considered.

I am committed to delivering an office that will bring much-needed transparency to our sector that will ultimately help our farmers and primary producers.

I am also fully committed to ensuring fairness, equity and transparency in the agricultural and food supply chain. The outcome of the current consultation will help to determine the principles and policies to be included in the new legislation and the powers to be assigned to the new Office. I encourage all stakeholders to participate in the public consultation.

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