According to several media outlets, including RTÉ, the formal establishment of An Rialálaí Agraibhia – the Irish government’s agri-food regulator – takes place today, 13 December 2023, in Backweston Campus, Celbridge, Co. Kildare.
The regulator will provide market analysis and transparency on business relationships between farmers, processors, and the powerful multiples that buy their produce, and attempt to stop unfair trading practices.
Farmers and small food producers have for many years complained that the prices they are paid are often inadequate and undervalue their produce.
Programme for Government Commitment
An Rialálaí Agraibhia is being formally established in that context, as an authority to ensure fairness, equity and transparency in the food chain – fulfilling a Programme for Government commitment in the process.
Its focus will be on providing price and market analyses on agri-food products and their supply chain(s), with a view to strengthening the position of small suppliers against large buyers, who wield enormous bargaining power.
Enforcing EU Legislation
An Rialálaí Agraibhia will also enforce EU legislation banning 16 unfair trading practices, such as requiring small producers to pay for shelf space, marketing or promotions of their products, unilateral contract changes or cancellations, and late payments or returning unsold goods to producers without paying.
An Rialálaí Agraibhia does not have a role in price-making, nor can it investigate cartel-like behaviour.
CEO Niamh Lenehan said, “We do not have a role in competition law. An Rialálaí Agraibhia’s role in that space is that [if], in the course of our work, we come across any practices or anything we feel does not look quite right, we have a duty to pass that on to the relevant authority.”
An Rialálaí Agraibhia will have 17 staff members when it is fully operational, and recruitment is ongoing.