Senior officials at the Department of Agriculture must appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee to answer questions on the remit and powers of the proposed National Food Ombudsman, ICSA president, Dermot Kelleher, has said.

“The ombudsman role as constituted under the unfair trading practices directive does not have sufficient powers to make a transformative change for beef farmers,” Kelleher said.

“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.”

Hamstrung ombudsman

Following a meeting with vice chair of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee Tim Lombard, the ICSA welcomed the senator’s comments relating to the seeking of greater powers for the ombudsman’s office.

There is an opportunity for us to get this right

Kelleher continued: “We made it clear that the office of the ombudsman must have the powers to deliver absolute transparency over where the margins lie within the beef sector lie.

“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.”

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