25 June 2020
By Bryan Smyth
The planned new Food Ombudsman will mean fairer prices for farmers, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Fine Gael Cork Senator, Tim Lombard, member of the outgoing Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, has welcomed the proposal which is contained in the draft Programme for Government.
Senator Lombard said: “The proposed new Food Ombudsman will enforce EU wide rules on prohibited unfair trading practices in the food supply chain. It will have powers to enforce the EU Directive in this area, penalising those who breach regulations. It will also have a specific role in analysing and reporting on price and market data in Ireland.
“This is good news for farmers as it will help to ensure fairer prices for what they produce. This agency has been long awaited by farmers who have been dealing with unfair practises for too long, leaving them to struggle with unfair prices.
“I was also pleased to see the Programme for Government commit the next Government to working closely with the agri-food sector to secure access to priority markets and to avail of opportunities that existing markets such as China and Japan afford the sector.
“This will build on the work undertaken by successive Fine Gael Ministers for Agriculture in recent years to open up new markets for Irish farmers. We ensured a significant new market for Irish beef framers when Ireland became the first country in Western Europe to achieve access to the Chinese market in early 2018. In the short time since then we have built on this achievement and we are working hard to create further opportunities for farmers to increase their price.
“Towards the end of last year, Minister Michael Creed’ trade mission to China secured the approval of 14 additional beef plants to supply product to the Chinese market, bringing to 21 the total number of Irish plants listed with the General Administration of Customs in China, allowing for a tenfold increase in beef exports.
“While of course we will seek to maintain the strongest possible trading relationship with the UK post Brexit; it is hugely important that the new Government recognises the importance of market diversification.
“Currently China is Ireland’s second largest market for pork and dairy, behind the UK. With the UK leaving the EU we would like to see beef progressed in the same way in China, following the successful model we have pursued with pork and dairy.
“I am glad to see the commitment to new markets in the Programme for Government, which should allow for significant new opportunities for farmers, and beef farmers in particular.”