Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Challenges in the Pig, Poultry and Horticulture Sectors: Irish Farmers Association

Photo of Matt CarthyMatt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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As the Chairman will recall, I was a member of the European Parliament when the unfair trading practices directive was adopted. I voted against it because I did not think it was sufficiently robust. I thought it gave too much latitude for governments to take a minimal approach. The Irish Farmers Association had quite a go at me for voting against it and I was challenged in many a forum, but that is its job as a lobby organisation.

I will outline the problem I have with where we are at now. The Government transposed the directive, essentially, on the last day it could do so. It left it until the last moment and did it on a minimal basis, as I had feared. Since then, it has two or three members of staff working in the enforcement unit it was obliged to establish. Last May, the Minister told the Dáil he intended to establish a food ombudsman or regulator by the end of last year. He told us this month it will be established by the end of this year. It is nine months since the original commitment was given and we have been told it will take an extra three months than was originally anticipated. Does Mr. Cullinan have confidence on foot of his direct dealings with the Minister or the Department that when we have sight of this legislation, it will do precisely what he has set out, namely, it will have the teeth to address the imbalances that exist within the food chain?