Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has ramped up powers for the imminent agri-food regulator.

The regulator will now be able to seek non-publicly available information from agri-food companies under unfair trading practice complaints, where previously it was envisaged that only publicly available information would be used.

This means that the regulator will have the power to seek and review internal documents from companies such as meat processors and retailers to examine margins.

The agri-food regulator will also now have the power to consider unfair trading practices outside the State.

For example, this would mean that it could investigate the price paid to an Irish farmer for beef destined for China and compare it with the margin made by a meat processor selling it into the export market.

Minister McConalogue confirmed the ramped-up powers during a debate on the agricultural and food supply chain bill 2022 in the Dáil on Thursday. The bill, which provides for the agri-food regulator office and its operations, passed second stage.


During the debate on the bill, the Minister also confirmed that the recruitment competition for the CEO of the new office is currently being finalised by the Department of Agriculture.

The CEO of the regulator will report to its board, which will have eight members, upgraded from the provision of six in the previous versions of the bill.

The regulator will examine unfair trading practices in the agri-food sector.

Previously, the word “ombudsman” had been attached to the new office, but, following feedback, the Minister also confirmed that it will simply now be called the ‘Agri-food Regulator’ or ‘An Rialálaí Agraibhia’.

“It became clear, following the public consultation, that the inclusion of the term 'Ombudsman' in the name was not appropriate,” he said.

Annual report

The regulator will publish an annual report on its work and Minister McConalogue has opted to include recommendations to include the remuneration of the CEO in this document.

Complaints to the agri-food regulator will not come with a cost for now, says Minister McConalogue. \ Philip Doyle

The annual report will now also include any recommendations to the Minister by the regulator throughout the year, in respect of legislation.

“The [agricultural and food supply chain] bill aims to ensure there is protection for all farmers, fishers, growers and small business operating in the agri-food sector against unfair trading practices and that the availability of market and price information brings greater market transparency,” he said.

The bill will now progress to the select committee on agriculture, food and the marine for further scrutiny.

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