The ICMSA President, John Comer, was critical of the observations Commissioner Hogan is reported to have made at the AgroBalt forum in Lithuania last week. Mr. Comer said that the Commissioner seemed to have undergone what he called the “astonishing change-of-mind” that Commission officials experienced whenever they were confronted with the overwhelming powers and lobbying of the food retail corporations. Mr. Comer said that the hundreds of delegates who had attended the ICMSA AGM in Limerick last November and heard Commissioner Hogan committing his office to helping farmers rebalance the present completely skewed system of margin-grabbing and abuse in the supply-chain would be surprised and disappointed to read that he had now been converted to the fantasy that voluntary codes organised on a individual national basis would be enough to rectify the abuse.
Mr. Comer said that the idea that Member States acting alone could exert pressure on multi-national, multi-billion euro retail corporations with turnovers often greater than state revenues was practically laughable. He said that farmers suspected that the EU unwillingness to regulate the retailers into ensuring fair treatment and living margins for farmers arose simply and purely out of the Commission’s fear of the power of the corporate lobby and their willingness to go along with the retail corporations ‘cheap food’ – that actually translated as ‘cheap’ to the retailer but ruinously expensive to the farmers and primary producers.
“As far as ICMSA is concerned, Commissioner Hogan has joined the long, long, list of Commission personnel who have talked about fairness in the food supply-chain but then – when ‘push comes to shove’ – just give in and start talking about ‘voluntary initiatives’ and how it’s up to the Member States themselves. To read Commissioner Hogan talking about how, in time, this policy of non-action “should lead to a cultural change throughout the chain” is profoundly disappointing. We farmers don’t have the time to wait while the retail corporations may or may not decide on a cultural change. In any case, why is it left up to the corporations themselves to decide on whether or not they want to be fair to the people supplying them?”
Ends 11 April 2016.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office