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S&Ds: let’s stop being bullied by Unfair Trading Practices in the food chain. Consumers’ health and small producers’ rights come first


Agriculture & Food
Following today’s presentation in the agriculture committee of the draft report on Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) in the food supply chain, rapporteur and S&D MEP, Paolo De Castro, stated:
“Let’s stop being bullied by unfair trading practices. Let’s stop giving in to the blackmail of some reckless big players against the weaker and smaller producers.  It is high time to stop this in Europe. It is also time for consumers in Europe to join us in this battle and to realise that behind any unfair trading practice, lies not only a major threat to farms and workers, but also a concrete risk for food quality, and hence for their own health.
“Who do you think will pay the price of unilateral reductions of the contracted quantity for perishable goods, or the late payments for perishable products, or even the obligations for suppliers to take back products not sold by the buyer? The small farmers! Forced by a limited bargaining power, they could accept this blackmail and thus be forced to dismiss workers or lower the quality of their products in order not to go bankrupt.
“Who do you think will pay the final price of all these unfair trading practices? We will! All of us consumers that risk finding low quality and health-damaging food on our table.
“This is not a witch-hunt aimed against any particular category or targeted to defend any individual player. This is a fair trade reaction aimed to stop the cascade effect, and to prevent the unfair trade practices that are paid by the weakest in the food supply chain.
“This is the reason why we finally need a common European legal framework, a minimum common standard of protection across the EU able to harmonise the over 20 different national regulations and prohibit specific Unfair Trade Practices all over Europe.
“The S&Ds supports the European Commission’s proposal as a long anticipated legislative instrument, but do not consider it as sufficiently ambitious to effectively defend agricultural producers’ bargaining position: this is why we firmly intend to widen the scope to suppliers in the food supply chain, regardless their size or turnover, in order to avoid any negative effect - direct or indirect - on all European and non-European small producers.
“There is no more time to lose. It is now, under the Austrian Presidency, that we can solve the problem and ensure fair trade practices for all farmers as well as healthy food for all of us.”