Any incoming government has been urged to follow Spain’s lead in introducing laws prohibiting the sale of vegetables, fruit and meat at retail prices below the cost of production, by the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA).
The Spanish government has moved to introduce laws which would link sales contracts to production costs to prevent farmers selling at a loss. The move comes after weeks of marches and protests by Spanish farmers.
ICMSA president Pat McCormack drew particular attention to comments by the Spanish agriculture minister Luis Planas, who said there was “a clear imbalance” in the food chain and the government’s aim would be to “restore balance between all the links and ensure a transparent price system”.
McCormack said: “This is exactly the same imbalance that farmers in Ireland and all over the EU have been highlighting now for decades and how badly we need to hear an Irish government minister articulate it as frankly as the Spanish minister did.
“Even more so, how badly we need to see really effective legislation introduced that bans retailing food at below-cost prices and genuinely attempts to rebalance the margins and profits in the food production chain.”
McCormack said there was now a realisation that relying on “good wishes and a sense of fairness on the part of multi-national retail corporations is an exercise in futility and wishful-thinking”. He said there needed to be legislation “with real teeth and real penalties”.
Both retailers and consumers needed to be weaned off “the incredibly destructive cheap food drug” he added.
“We cannot go on allowing multi-billion euro corporations the freedom to fleece the farmer-producers for their own ends while also obstructing the way forward to sustainable food production at sustainable prices for sustainable farming communities”, McCormack said.