Farmers need strong enforcement of the new Grocery Goods Regulations, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association.
Joe Healy, president, called on Enterprise Trade and Employment Minister Mary Mitchell-O’Connor, at a recent meeting, to oversee the enforcement of the new regulations by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CPCC).
He said she must ensure the CPCC is very strong in its role of monitoring the compliance of retailers and wholesalers with the legislation, including all the requirements for staff training, annual compliance reporting and maintaining of records.
“Farmers need contracts that are effective, their complaints must be investigated, and any offences against the regulations prosecuted.
“Retailers must be aware that they will be held to account, and farmers need to know the regulations to protect suppliers are being enforced,” he said.
Mr Healy said the new regulations will have to lead to a fundamental change by retailers and wholesalers when it comes to paying their suppliers promptly.
“Wholesalers and retailers will have to step up to the mark and comply with the new legislation, which provides for payment within 30 days as a standard provision.
“There is no justification for retailers or wholesalers to insist on contractual terms longer than the standard 30 days, for short shelf-life products such as fruit, vegetables, milk and other fresh product,” he said.
Mr Healy welcomed the progress made in the enactment of the regulations, but said the legislation must go further and provide for a ban on below cost selling and the establishment of an independent retail ombudsman.
“This would give suppliers who are subject to unfair trading practices by retailers confidential and effective recourse to an Independent Ombudsman to investigate and pursue their case.
"IFA is concerned the new Competition and Consumer Protection Commission will not be sufficiently focussed on supplier interests to effectively pursue complaints,” he said.
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