18th December 2014
ICSA met with EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan in Brussels today (18th December) and pushed the case for regulation and examination of margins in the retail food chain which apply to key farm products. “ICSA believes that we must have transparency around how the profits from key products like beef, lamb and dairy are shared between farmers, processors and retailers,” said ICSA president Patrick Kent. “ICSA is proposing that the EU Commission needs to introduce a pan-European regulator which would have power to audit the whole retail chain and discern whether there was a fair share of margins allocated to all parts of the chain. ICSA argues that the past twelve months provide ample evidence that farmers are not getting a fair share of the final retail price, in beef for instance. We believe that this must be the business of the EU Commission given that the success of the CAP is being undermined by farmers losing money in the marketplace.”
According to Mr Kent, Commissioner Hogan was receptive to the ICSA proposals. “The Commissioner accepts that there is a problem and acknowledges that ICSA has a point in calling for transparency around retail and processing margins. ICSA believes that where there is abuse of margins, the Commission-appointed regulator should have the power to impose fines. In the first instance however, the key requirement is that the regulator would have power to audit the margins along the retail chain at processor and retailer level.”
ICSA also raised the issue of LPIS overclaim penalties and emphasised that the penalties were very unfair. “Farmers are being pulled between environmental demands and agricultural requirements and it is impossible to meet both,” said Mr. Kent. “ICSA emphasised that these penalties were almost exclusively imposed on farmers on marginal land. It was accepted that farmers should be entitled to certainty around their applications and should not be at risk of penalties due to ever changing regulations or mapping changes.”
The ICSA delegation, consisting of president Patrick Kent, beef vice-chairman Tom Egan and general secretary Eddie Punch, also raised the problems around the hen harrier designation and the commonage GLAS plans with Commissioner Hogan. “The Commissioner seemed anxious to ensure that the commonage GLAS issue could be solved, especially around the contentious requirement for collective agreement,” said Mr. Kent.
In conclusion, Patrick Kent said that the meeting was useful and he looked forward to ongoing dialogue with the Commissioner and his team.