Matt Carthy MEP: “Unfair Trading Practices legislation is a missed opportunity to improve the position of farmers”
Sinn Fein MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy has described the new EU Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) legislation as a lost opportunity and has said that he fears that farmers will continue to be exploited by retailers in the market. Carthy, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, cited the failure to include a ban on below-cost-selling as the most glaring omission in a failed package.
Speaking from Strasburg after the adoption of the legislation, Carthy commented:
“The situation whereby, those who do the most amount of work in producing the food we eat – receive they least share of profits – has been getting worse every single year.
“Retailers and processers have been exploiting their position while our farmers are expected to work on ever tightening profit margins and often, at a loss.
“Many of us hoped that the EU would step up to the mark and deliver Unfair Trading Practises legislation that would rebalance the scales, recognise the importance of our farming communities and stand up to the corporate giants. This was the opportunity to do so.
“That opportunity has been wasted.
“Sinn Féin MEPs voted against this file because we cannot look farmers in the eye and tell them their situation will improve as a result of its enactment.
“The failure to include a ban on below cost selling of foodstuffs is just the most glaring of the deficiencies in this legislation. One third of the banned UTPs can continue if supermarkets manage to insert them into contracts.
“I hope that I am proved wrong, that the implementation of this legislation will prove a game-changer for our family farmers.
“I fear though that it will not; and that we will either have to return to this work, or watch as more farmers leave the land and our rural communities suffer for want of a bit of ambition and vision at EU level.
“I have listened to those Irish MEPs who supported this file and Commissioner Hogan describe it as ‘a good start’ – But, negotiations on this legislation has been going on for 10 years! If it takes a decade to reach this point then our farmers surely deserve better.
“Sinn Féin’s focus will now move to a national level where we will press for domestic legislation that addresses the gaps left by the EU text. Most importantly, we will continue to demand the reintroduction of an Irish ban on below-cost-selling.”