Fairness has always been a core principle of organic agriculture, leading European advocacy group IFOAM EU has reminded Brussels legislators ahead of important discussions this month on unfair trading practices (UTPs).
The (European) Council’s Special Committee on Agriculture will discuss unfair trading practices on September 10.
IFOAM EU says it welcomes the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on UTPs as a first step to ensuring fair prices for producers, and fairness in the supply chain. But in a new position paper, it highlights a serious of concerns about the current direction of the discussions.
The group summarises the three main areas of concern as:
• The narrow scope of application in terms of actors covered under this proposal.
• The restricted list of UTPs which are explicitly prohibited.
• The mechanism of cooperation between competent authorities should be strengthened, especially when it comes to cross-border UTPs.
IFOAM EU’s Director Eduardo Cuoco comments: “One of the principles of the organic sector is ‘fairness’, and the organic movement strives for farmers and workers to be paid fairly. Value and power should be equally distributed along the supply chain without abuses due to market concentration and power imbalances. Indeed, fairness should apply at all levels and actors of the food supply chain.”
” …all actors independent of their size should be covered by this legislation, and a clear definition and general ban of UTPs should be introduced”
Suggesting ways to tackle UTPs, he adds: “IFOAM EU welcomes this proposal, given that both EU and non-EU farmers should be protected against unfair trading practices imposed by more powerful actors in the supply chain. As such, all actors independent of their size should be covered by this legislation, and a clear definition and general ban of UTPs should be introduced. Also key to the implementation of this Directive are: a credible and anonymous complaints procedure that enables civil society and associations that protect producers to file a complaint, as well as truly dissuasive sanctions.”
IFOAM EU says it is closely following the UTP legislative process together with a group of NGOs including Oxfam, Fair Trade Advocacy Office, and Traidcraft in order to further strengthen this proposal. Discussions in the Council run in parallel with votes in the European Parliament’s AGRI, IMCO, ENVI and DEVE Committees. The Plenary vote in the Parliament will take place on 22 October, while the first trialogue is foreseen on 12 November.