Hogan to help food suppliers get paid
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.