NFU President Meurig Raymond has called on both the European Commission and the UK Government to act on the recommendations of the Agricultural Markets Taskforce and fix the faults identified within the European food supply chain.
The NFU provided a wealth of evidence to the taskforce as well as meeting with industry groups at a UK and European level. The taskforce was created by agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan in summer 2015 following a period of weak agricultural commodity prices. Its report makes a series of suggestions designed to improve the functioning of the food supply chain and the position of farmers.
These will now be discussed by European agriculture ministers at a meeting today.
Recommendations include increasing market transparency through mandatory price reporting, enhancing cooperation among farmers, facilitating farmers' access to finance and improving the take-up of risk management tools.
The report also calls for new rules at EU level to cover certain unfair trading practices in the food chain, such as contracts being reneged and supply schedules being changed, as well as the implementation of effective enforcement regimes in member states, such as use of an adjudicator.
Mr Raymond said: “I welcome the contents of this report. The NFU has provided a huge amount of input into the Agricultural Markets Taskforce and I am encouraged to read many of its recommendations.
“It’s extremely positive that the taskforce has recognised our calls for mandatory price reporting in order to increase market transparency across the supply chain. The NFU has often raised the issue of the ‘black hole’ in market data on the processor-buyer end of the supply chain which stifles trust, collaboration and the development of market risk management tools.
“The report highlights how this approach is working well in the United States where price reporting is supported by the whole supply chain and is used by a range of industry stakeholders to support decision making. Adopting this model has the potential to create a much more joined up approach to managing market risk in the UK and the European Union.
“The NFU has campaigned hard on the need to tackle unfairness in the food supply chain. NFU lobbying brought about the Groceries Code Adjudicator in the UK and it is essential that British farmers are given similar protection when they trade abroad.
“The UK Government needs to act on many of these recommendations to support UK agriculture. Many of the failings found in the EU supply chain are also prevalent here in the UK and we must see change. We badly need an improvement in market data collection and auditing, especially in the dairy and livestock sectors and the strengthening of the various voluntary codes that we have seen developed over recent years.
“Some of the proposals could deliver real change for farming here. UK farming is a strategically important industry that grows and produces the raw ingredients for the UK’s largest manufacturing industry - food and drink - worth £108 billion to the UK economy. It also provides jobs for nearly four million people.
“I strongly urge both the European Commission and the UK Government to accept these suggestions and come forward with legislative proposals to enact them.”