Farmers need EU backing to tackle power of retailers, conference told

FARMERS need European Union backing to achieve greater balance in their dealings with the large multiple retailers, IFA president John Bryan told EU authorities at yesterday’s COPA conference in Brussels.

Mr Bryan said that only a well-funded CAP post-2013 and revisions to EU retail regulations would give farmers a stronger income and a fairer slice of profits from retail food sales.

The IFA chief cited Tesco, which yesterday announced overall group sales of €38 billion for the first six months of 2010, up 8.3% compared with the same period last year.

“The current CAP payments have proven to be essential in maintaining modest farm family incomes and assisting them with to deal with extreme volatility in a more open global market.

“The EU Commission and the EU Parliament have a huge responsibility to ensure that Europe’s most successful economic policy – the Common Agriculture Policy – is properly funded and directed at active farmers post-2013.”

EU farmers group COPA’s conference in Brussels is entitled Fairer and Stable Income for Farmers.

Mr Bryan argues that a central plank in securing a sustainable income for farmers is regulation of the retail sector, with greater equity for producers in profits from the food supply chain.

“Even with a well-funded CAP, farm incomes in real terms have dropped by over one-third in the last decade. Retail multiples are taking more and more profit from the food supply chain, as evidenced again by Tesco’s announcement today of a massive increase in profits,” said Mr Bryan.

He said EU regulation is overdue and a rebalancing of the share out of the consumer spend on food has to be a priority within the European Union.

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