Letters to the Editor, ‘Call for Fair Trade Foundation principles for Irish farmers’

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Saturday, October 20th, 2012
Letters to the Editor
Dear Editor, The current dissatisfaction in the farming community around prices being paid to farmers by processors and suppliers to the supermarket chains must be addressed. We have seen farmers taking to the streets in both Dublin and London in a bid to obtain a fair price for their produce. Their frustration stems from the fact that all other elements of the supply chain have their profit margins guaranteed by highly organised, professional and powerful buying groups and companies, but the prime producer is typically isolated and vulnerable. The authorities correctly ensure farmers adhere to high standards of animal welfare and husbandry, providing confidence to consumers, however a large deficit exists in the protection afforded to the actual farmer. Some form of redress must be devised in order to defend the dignity of those who feed us. With this principle in mind, at the most recent meeting of Newry and Mourne District Council’s Agriculture Committee I raised the possibility of applying the Fair Trade Foundation’s principles to our own farmers. Many consumers correctly make their purchasing decisions based on those principles, which emphasize that the farmer has been treated fairly and not exploited. The Fair Trade Foundation looks after the interests of producers primarily in underdeveloped parts of the world such as Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Carribbean. However I do believe those closer to home could also avail of the protection that “marque” offers. As an organisation it is becoming more influential for the best reasons and wields a considerable amount of power amongst consumers. Our committee has agreed to act on my proposal by inviting representatives of The Fair Trade Foundation to our next meeting. Declan McAteer
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