The role of agricultural shows in providing a showcase for animals and food has been praised by European Union Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.
Addressing farmers and food producers at Kent County Show in England, he said he never tires of attending these events which provide the opportunity to recreate the link between urban and rural communities.
“I’m sorry to say there is nowadays too much of a disconnect between producers and consumers and far too much misunderstanding as to the origin of food,” he said.
Mr Hogan said that, as somebody who grew up on a farm and subsequently represented a largely rural constituency in the Dáil for 30 years, he appreciates that farming is an occupation with no market certainty.
He said farmers and producers are producing food to a consistently high quality that increasingly discerning consumers demand.
“It is a pity, therefore, that you as producers are, in many cases, not getting an appropriate return for the quality of the food you produce and for the time and cost that it takes to produce that food,” said Mr Hogan.
“I am constantly being reminded of the shortcomings in the food chain whereby it seems increasingly that all actors other than the farmer are getting a fair share.
“I keep saying that without the farmer, we don’t have the product. While it is important that consumers have choice, it’s equally important that they get a fair return for their work.”
Mr Hogan said he has been working to see how the position of the farmer can be strengthened.
“I have established a Task Force which is looking at the issue and, particularly, at legislative models that exist in the EU,” he said.
“In that regard, the Groceries’ Adjudicator here in the UK is one such model which has generated a lot of interest and is certainly one in which I am interested. Let’s see if this approach to boosting the farmers’ position can be more widely replicated.”
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