Is cúis áthais dom a bheith ar ais sa tSeanad chun deireadh a chur leis an mBille an-thábhachtach seo. I thank you, a Chathaoirligh, and the House for receiving me again. I will speak to amendments Nos. 1, 4, 5 and 6.
These amendments relate to the inclusion of a new Part 4 to the Bill to provide for amendment of the Registration of Potato Growers and Potato Packers Act 1984. The Collective Citation and the Long Title have also been amended consequent on the introduction of this new Part 4. Part 4 amends sections 2 and 3 of the Registration of Potato Growers and Potato Packers Act 1984. The registration number of the grower and the registration number of the packer will now be required to be displayed on packaged potatoes.
The amendment to section 3 is to reflect current demands and expectations regarding the traceability of food. The purpose of this amendment is provide full traceability of the potato pack to the primary producer.
Currently, the potato packers' number is shown on the package in the majority of sales at retail level. While traceability is available to the Department of Agriculture and Food via the packers' number, as matters stand it is not immediately obvious to the consumer. Today's consumers want this information readily available and will often purchase food on the basis of knowledge of the origin of the product. Traceability, quality control and food safety have become a feature of retail sales due to the various health scares and a comprehensive traceability system provides assurance for everybody, buyers and sellers.
The amendment of section 2 will facilitate the updating of the register and allow for the deletion of entries in the register, which clearly do not reflect current reality given the consolidation in the numbers of growers and packers. I am also making provision for inspection of the register to ensure the traceability route is fully in place and I will make the necessary arrangements to have the register available for inspection via the website of the Department of Agriculture and Food.
The Act applies only to potatoes grown in the State and will not affect imports. Imports into Ireland are required to have a plant passport label issued by an official body in the country of origin. This label may show either the official registered grower number or the official packer number in accordance with European Union regulations. These changes are in the interests of producers, consumers and Ireland incorporated, and in the common interest of assuring the provision of quality product and broader macro-consumer opportunity. I hope the amendments are acceptable to the House.