Ho­gan to help food sup­pli­ers get paid

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS - PA­TRICK SMYTH Europe Ed­i­tor

Small-scale sup­pli­ers of per­ish­able goods who face dif­fi­culty get­ting prompt pay­ment from su­per­mar­kets and big food pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies are set to get a new le­gal ar­moury to help them in their un­equal strug­gle.

Ir­ish EU agri­cul­ture com­mis­sioner Phil Ho­gan yes­ter­day set out a pack­age of re­forms to ban “un­fair” con­tract terms and en­able na­tional au­thor­i­ties to po­lice the con­duct of big buy­ers.

The mea­sures would ban uni­lat­eral or retroac­tive changes to con­tracts and out­law tak­ing longer than 30 days to pay sup­pli­ers of per­ish­able prod­ucts – such as dairy goods, fruit and veg, and food prod­ucts – ex­cept by mu­tual agree­ment. The prac­tice of break­ing con­tracts at the last minute re­sult­ing in the dump­ing of per­ish­able goods will also be out­lawed.

Mr Ho­gan, speak­ing to jour­nal­ists in Brus­sels, de­nied in­dus­try claims that he was ad­dress­ing a non-ex­is­tent prob­lem.

Twenty mem­ber states had al­ready taken ac­tion, he said, and the unan­i­mous sup­port yes­ter­day of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s agri­cul­ture com­mit­tee re­flected a gen­uine need for ac­tion, he said. Some farm­ers waited months for pay­ment.

He also ad­verted to the prac­tice of de­mand­ing that pro­duc­ers take back un­sold pro­duce as an “un­fair” prac­tice that con­cerns the com­mis­sion. The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion does not deal with that at present.

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