European agri co-ops want EU legislation against unfair trading supply chain practices

Sector bodies Copa-Cogeca want a ban on unfair practices backed by enforcement measures and deterrent sanctions

Copa-Cogeca, the organisations representing European farmers and agri co-ops, want the EU to tackle unfair trading practices (UTPs) in the food supply chain.

They called for new legislation in their response to the European Commission’s inception impact assessment of how to improve the functioning of the food supply chain, which was released in July.

The assessment sets out a series of objectives and policy options, notably in relation to unfair trading practices (UTPs), producer co-operation and market transparency.

Phil Hogan, European commissioner for agriculture and rural development, said: “The publication of the inception impact assessment and the forthcoming publication of the public consultation are two concrete steps towards addressing the shortcomings in the food supply chain which impact adversely on the producer, who is the key element in the chain and without whom there would be no chain.

“I encourage all interested parties to participate fully in this initiative, which I am confident will have a positive impact on the position of the farmer in the chain.”

Copa-Cogeca’s response supports option three in the paper – which would introduce EU framework legislation to prohibit UTPs, alongside control and enforcement mechanisms, and deterrent sanctions.

Copa-Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen said: “The huge imbalance of power in the food supply chain has left us with no choice but to opt for option three and call for legislation to be introduced to improve farmers’ positioning and to stop unfair trading practices.

Pekka Pesonen of Copa-Cogeca

“It is unacceptable that farmers get for example only 20% of the price of a piece of steak when they are the ones who do the majority of the work in producing it. The voluntary Supply Chain Initiative, which was developed by retailers and processors, to which Copa and Cogeca did not sign up to, clearly does not work.”

The two organisations also called for increasing market transparency by improving information to enable all operators in the food supply chain to take more informed decisions. They suggest having derogations from competition law to enable agri co-operatives and other types of producer organisations to grow in size and scale.

The assessment is completed by a public consultation, which will be open for twelve weeks. Copa-Cogeca are preparing a contribution to the consultation.

“We expect this to feed into the Commission’s proposals, which are due out in Spring 2018 so that farmers can receive a fair price for their work,” said Mr Pesonen.

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