The next government must ‘catch the tide of opinion and fairness’ and ban retail practices that result in farmers selling their produce at a loss, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association has urged.
Pat McCormack, president, said Spain prohibited the sale of vegetables, fruit and meats at retail prices below production costs.
He noted that Spanish agriculture minister, Luis Planas had said there was “a clear imbalance in the food production chain and that his government’s aim was to restore balance between all the links and ensure a transparent price system.
“This is exactly the same imbalance that farmers in Ireland and all over the European Union have been highlighting now for decades,” he said.
Mr McCormack said there is a need to hear an Irish government minister articulate the same frank message.
He called for the introduction of effective legislation that bans retailing food at below-cost prices and attempts to rebalance the margins and profits in the food production chain.
“France and now Spain have both realised that relying on good wishes and a sense of fairness on the part of multinational retail corporations is an exercise in futility and wishful-thinking. What’s needed and must happen is legislation with real teeth and real penalties,” he said.
Mr McCormack said France and Spain have now led the way and Ireland must see that this is the only option that will give the farmer primary-producers a fair price.
It must also begin weaning both the retail corporations and consumers off the incredibly destructive ‘Cheap Food’ drug.
“What these states have seen is that for reasons of both economic justice and environmental necessity, we must begin to end the practice of selling high-quality food below cost.
“We cannot go on allowing multi-billion euro corporations the freedom to fleece farmer-producers for their own ends while also obstructing the way forward to sustainable food production at sustainable prices for farming communities.”
Mr McCormack said the tide of governmental opinion is turning against the retail corporations and their complete control of Europe’s food production chain.
Ireland needs to catch that tide and introduce legislation immediately banning below cost selling, he sad.