ICSA WELCOMES EXAMINATION OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE CCPC IN BEEF SECTOR

2 OCTOBER 2019

ICSA president Edmond Phelan has commended the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Business Enterprise and Innovation for grilling the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) at its meeting on Tuesday night, in line with ICSA calls for an Oireachtas investigation into the CCPC. “ICSA was outraged at the unwarranted intervention by the CCPC into recent beef talks and its extreme interpretation of competition law. For that reason, we called for an Oireachtas investigation to find out why the CCPC was so proactive when it came to a few farmers who have no ability to set the price, yet so powerless when it came to investigating the oligopoly structure of the meat processing sector.”

“In particular, ICSA has repeatedly pointed out that it is unusual to say the least that no factory can tell what the price of beef will be for next week at 2pm on Friday and yet they all know the price at 4pm. However, this highly unusual state of affairs attracts no attention from the CCPC who on the other hand, was very quick to threaten farmer representatives as soon as they entered beef talks with representatives of the meat factories.”

“The idea that it is illegal to even discuss the price of beef is an incredible conclusion in a liberal democracy. This is not North Korea. ICSA sees this as an incredibly extreme interpretation of competition law when the EU Competition Authority saw no difficulty with ABP taking over Slaney foods, thus furthering their dominant position in meat processing.”

“While the answers were not particularly satisfactory, we note that the CCPC agreed that there was possibly a need for an independent regulator to oversee the meat sector and to examine the breakdown of who gets what from the food chain.”

“ICSA acknowledges the efforts of the assembled deputies and senators to elicit answers to questions repeatedly asked by ICSA. However, the role of competition law needs further examination at EU level. It is patently absurd that millions of farmers, none of whom have any power to fix price, are subject to an even more stringent version of competition law than multi-national large scale processors or retailers. Clearly, the potential to rig the market is not to be found among the many powerless farmers who are on their knees. Competition law should be focused on the dominant players in processing and retailing.”

ENDS