Thursday, 19 January 2023
Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill 2022: Second Stage (Resumed)
"Long-awaited" is the phrase most associated with this Bill, and I certainly welcome it. Farmers in Mayo desperately need this legislation but we need it to mean something. A number of things need to be done on Committee Stage in order to get this right. I ask the Minister to work with us, including my colleague, Deputy Carthy, to make sure we get it right because it is a one-off opportunity.
The reason this legislation is before us is the reporting of the cartel-like behaviour that farmers have experienced until now. We have heard that from the farming organisations, farmers themselves and many others over the years. The regulator must have real teeth and the pricing data must be available. There is no point in giving people data that are already available. The evidence has to be gathered and we cannot gather the evidence of bad behaviour if we do not have these data. It is vital that these data are gathered and made publicly available so that the contrast can be drawn.
We have an opportunity to get this right and we must do so. We owe that to the farmers in Mayo and across this country who have waited for this legislation for so long.