24 FEBRUARY 2021
ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has called for senior officials at the Department of Agriculture to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Agriculture and the Marine to answer questions on the remit and powers of the proposed Food Ombudsman.
“The ombudsman role as constituted under the Unfair Trading Practices directive does not have sufficient powers to make a transformative change for beef farmers. ICSA has long campaigned for a regulator with robust powers and this must include the powers to forensically audit the books along the food chain, starting at processor level.”
“It is accepted that additional legislation will be required to deliver the results farmers need by strengthening the powers of the new entity. However, we now need clarity around what legislation is actually being considered, and what this legislation will aim to deliver.”
Mr Kelleher welcomed comments made by Senator Tim Lombard, vice chair of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, seeking more powers for the Ombudsman’s office. “ICSA met with Senator Lombard last week to highlight the critical importance of getting this additional legislation right. We made it clear the office of the Ombudsman must have the powers to deliver absolute transparency over where the margins lie within the beef sector lie, and that will require forensic auditing. ”
“The scale of that task should be obvious to all. It should also be obvious to all that the meat industry would run rings around an Ombudsman that was hamstrung by ineffective legislation or lack of adequate funding. There is an opportunity for us to get this right; all that is needed is the right legislation and the resources to get the job done. We cannot allow this opportunity to be fudged.”