Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. today announced that the Cabinet has approved the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill 2022 for presentation to Dáil Éireann. This will commence the legislative process for adoption of the Bill.
This Bill, when enacted, will establish a new independent statutory Authority which will be known as An Rialtóir Agraibhia (The Agri-Food Regulator).
Minister McConalogue said: “I am delighted to have received Government approval today for the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill. This fulfils a Programme for Government commitment to ensure fairness, equity, and transparency in the food chain by establishing a new authority. I thank my colleagues in Government for their support for the Bill.
“The Agri-Food Regulator will be office with real teeth that will be a strong advocate for farmers, fishers and all food producers.
It will shine a light on the sector to help improve the position of the primary producer and it will also bring greater transparency and fairness. The Regulator will promote and enforce the principles of fairness and transparency for agri-food suppliers.
The Regulator will be able to do this by implementing a number of key functions:
- a price and market analysis and reporting function. The Regulator will bring greater transparency to the agricultural and food supply chain by carrying out analysis and regularly publishing reports on price and market data;
- enhancing understanding and enforcement of agri-food unfair trading law, including being designated as the national Enforcement Authority for the Unfair Trading Practices Directive 2019/633. The Regulator will have the powers to investigate suspected breaches; promote alternative dispute resolution procedures between suppliers and buyers; bring proceedings for offences under this Bill; and refer cases to the Director of Public Prosecutions where the Regulator believes that an indictable offence has been committed. The Bill provides for the imposition of fines for indictable offences concerning non-compliance with the rules of up to a maximum of €10 million or 10% of aggregate turnover, whichever is the greater; and
- promoting public awareness about agri-food unfair trading law and related matters including through public information campaigns.
Minister McConalogue added: “Many of the recommendations of the pre-legislative scrutiny report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine are provided for in the Bill.
“I am pleased that I can now present the Bill before the Dáil and move to the next stage of the legislative process. It is my intention to have An Rialtóir Agraibhia up and running and soon as possible.
“Today is a good day for the food producers of Ireland as they know that we are step closer to the establishment of the Agri-Food Regulator. This is also an important step forward in bringing forward this office which is a key Programme for Government commitment.”
Notes for Editors
The Bill when enacted will establish a new independent statutory Authority to be known as An Rialtóir Agraibhia (The Agri-Food Regulator).
The objective of the new Office will be to promote the principles of fairness and transparency in the agricultural and food supply chain, and enforce the rules on unfair trading practices.
The Bill does not deal with business to consumer relationships: it deals with business-to-business relationships in the agricultural and food supply chain.
The Bill provides that the new Office will be led by a Board and will have a Chief Executive Officer. The competition for the CEO is ongoing.
With regard to the Unfair Trading Practices Directive, currently enforced by the interim UTP Enforcement Authority in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the enabling provisions in the Bill provide for the transfer of responsibility for UTP enforcement functions to the remit of the new Regulator.
The Bill provides for regulation making powers for the Minister regarding fairness and transparency in the agricultural and food supply chain.
Currently complaints about Unfair Trading Practices may be submitted to the interim UTP Enforcement Authority at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. See also Website: www.utp.gov.ie
The UTP Enforcement Authority is currently running a public information campaign to alert suppliers to their rights under the Unfair Trading Practices Directive.