French move closer to incorporating input costs into food price by law

 The President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, has welcomed further developments in France where the debate on incorporating the cost of inputs into the prices received by farmers and primary producers has moved forward again with the proposal of a law by a member of the French Parliament.   Mr. Gregory Besson-Moreau has proposed a bill that will put mandatory cost indicators into the price negotiations between farmers and processors and supermarkets.   Mr. Besson-Moreau’s proposal aims at ensuring that farmers get a better share of final consumer price by legally insisting that the cost of producing food are factored into the prices paid to farmers. Amongst a range of measures designed to strengthen the position of farmers that includes mandatory and multi-year contracting, much interest will focus on the proposed law’s clause that will introduce a ban on food clearance sales without the permission of the farmers involved.   Significantly, the proposed bill has been welcomed by the French Agriculture Minister on behalf of the Government.  

The proposed law will not create a new regulation but rather strengthen an already existing French one and it is attracting attention at EU level.   The contrast to Ireland’s approach has been noted by ICMSA President, Pat McCormack, who said that Irish politicians seem terrified of our powerful retail corporations and unwilling to give any serious consideration to any measure that might displease them or upset the ‘Cheap Food’ policy they operate.

“Irish farmers will watch the French development with great interest.  The contrast between the way their politicians see and understand the position of France’s primary food producers and the way ours do is very instructive”, said Mr. McCormack. “In Ireland we have no legal mechanism for ensuring that farmers get a fair price at all – much less ensure that the costs of producing the food in the first place are covered”, he continued.

“What’s even worse is that this question is daily becoming more pressing as the costs and inputs around environmental sustainability become clearer.  It’s already obvious that we are going to have to reform and recalculate what we pay for food, because the present system – invented by the corporate retailers for their benefit – is not even paying the economic costs, much less the growing environmental costs. We are going to have to introduce a system that ensures that the people producing the food are paid the economic and environmental costs of producing that food.   ICMSA has been repeating this completely obvious point for several years now and we still see it completely unaddressed by Government.  As recently as the Agri-Strategy 2030 document just published; there’s no mention in there anywhere of the self-evident fact that the scale of changes involved must affect the consumer prices.  The nagging suspicion is that these new policies are premised on the fantasy that farmers will pay for it all, jump through all the hoops and carry all the burden, while everyone else – processors, retailers and consumers – carries on exactly as before.  That’s not going to happen.  Everyone has to realise this.  The French certainly have and this proposed law shows that they’re already moving forward on the basis that the days when the retail corporations decided food policy for their own benefit are over. The Irish Government and our TDs should be looking hard and preparing for a similar debate here immediately”, concluded Mr. McCormack.

Ends         21 April 2021

Pat McCormack, 087-7608958

President, ICMSA.


Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office