Bill to establish new agri-food regulator debated in the Dáil | Fieldfisher
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Bill to establish new agri-food regulator debated in the Dáil



An Rialalai Agraibhia, also known as the Agri-Food Regulator, is to be established under the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Bill 2022 (the "Bill"). The Bill was published on 16 December 2022 and was debated in the Dáil yesterday evening, 10 May 2023. The Bill will return to the Dáil next week for final debate and is expected to be passed, after which it will go to the Seanad.
Functions / Powers

The new measures set out in the Bill seek to boost the position of farmers, fishermen, and other food providers in the agricultural and food supply chain relative to bigger consumers who have more negotiating power. It also aims to increase justice and transparency in the food supply chain.

Commenting on the Bill, Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture said that it will be the first time in the history of the state that there will be a legal statutory independent food regulator to bring transparency to the food supply chain. The Bill provides that the Agri-Food Regulator will undertake a number of functions, some of which are outlined as follows;  
  • The Agri-Food Regulator will increase the transparency of the agricultural and food supply chain by conducting analyses of price and market data, publishing reports on a regular basis, and developing and publishing reports on emergency situations, whether on its own initiative or at the request of the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine.
  • Promote public awareness about agri-food unfair trading law and related matters through public information campaigns.
  • Increase awareness of and compliance with agri-food unfair trade laws, including serving as the National Enforcement Authority for the Unfair Trading Practices Directive.

It is envisaged that the new Agri-Food Regulator will have a number of enforcement powers, such as the power to impose fines of up to €10million on purchasers, including food manufacturers, retailers, and those who engage in unfair trade with farmers and other suppliers.

The full text of the Bill (which is currently at the 5th stage[1] before the Dáil) can be accessed here.

Agri-Food Sector

The agri-food industry contributes significantly to Ireland's economy. In 2021, employment in the agri-food sector accounts for approximately 170,400 jobs or 7.1% of the total workforce on the island across 135,000 farms, 2,000 fishing vessels and aquaculture sites, and some 2,000 food production and beverage enterprises. Moreover, in 2022 there was a total of €18.7 billion agri-food sector exports (including non-edible products not included in some data sources).

A 'Bill digest' is available on the Oireachtas website which is a very helpful guide in relation to current government policy, an overview of the sector, principal provisions of the Bill etc. The Bill Digest can be accessed here.
[1] The 5th Stage is where final statements to the Bill are made and it is set down for second stage in the Seanad.

Written by: Barry Fagan, Hannah Unger and Katie Spillane

Areas of Expertise

Public and Regulatory