EU boost for farmers fighting Unfair Trading Practices

Agri MEP Alyn Smith has today welcomed the European Parliament’s bold adoption of a report that will dramatically reduce the impact of Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) on farmers. 

The report on Unfair Trading Practices in the Food Supply Chain passed with 600 MEPs voting in favour – a vast majority.

Alyn, Scotland’s sole voice on the Agriculture Committee, said:

"I strongly welcome the passage of this report by an overwhelming majority, having worked on it extensively at committee stage, showing that there is a very strong appetite in the European Parliament for EU legislative action to root out unfair trading practices imposed by retailers on farmers, such as late payments and listing fees. 

“The report recognises that the existing mechanism at EU level, the Supply Chain Initiative (SCI), is a toothless tiger, and that farmers' organisations are quite right to have nothing to do with it. With no ability to anonymously complain, and no facility to impose effective and dissuasive financial sanctions, the SCI is in the retailers' pocket. It is also positive that the report highlights the cross-border reach of the giant retailers, and the need for EU action to counter regulatory arbitrage.

“I still think we need to be doing a lot more at national level. The Groceries Code Adjudicator only covers the top 10 retailers and their direct relations with suppliers, completely missing out on the much more numerous farmer-processor relationships, where actions illegal under the Groceries Code still can and do happen.

“The GCA needs significantly more financial and human resources, and needs to be prepared to get tough with retailers: for instance I was disappointed that Tesco, despite being found guilty of late payments, were not fined. Also, the GCA only covers very specific practices and little has been done on the much greater issue of the imbalance of bargaining power in the food supply chain.

“All this needs to change if farmers are to get fair prices from the market, and today’s vote is a crucial step forward.”