The Irish Beef and Lamb Association (IBLA) has asked for clarification on the powers that will be given to a new statutory authority focusing on the food chain.

The Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri-Food Supply Chain has gone one step further following Cabinet approval on Tuesday 22 March.

The new authority will also act as the state-designated Unfair Trade Practices (UTP) enforcement authority.

The IBLA has asked Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue to clearly outline the range of powers the new office will have.

The group is adamant that the authority will fail to protect primary producers without adequate resources, funding and a set of strong regulatory instruments to conduct thorough investigations into the meat industry.

“IBLA was the only member of the Beef Market Task Force to request a discussion on and the introduction of an independent meat regulator,” a spokesperson for the group said.

The farm body has since engaged with the Unfair Trading Practices Authority (UTP), which was set up by Minister McConalogue as part of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Navy (DAFM).

The authority must remain in place until the new office is established.

The IBLA explained that it had raised “important issues and questions” on behalf of its members.

“IBLA is concerned that the new office does not have the mandate or investigative powers, as noted in communications received from the UTP enforcement authority.

“These communications make it clear that the enforcement authority’s investigative powers are strictly limited to non-compliance with UTP regulations only.

“However, the UTP Compliance Office has undertaken to further investigate the issues raised by IBLA on behalf of its members.

“When this report is finalized, IBLA will make public all findings and its experience of what this office is able to deliver,” the spokesperson added.

IBLA said it is imperative that an effective and efficient office is in place to ensure transparency and accountability on behalf of all primary producers.

“We don’t need another CCPC [Competition and Consumer Protection Commission] style office, where the primary producers of agriculture have been completely abandoned by a toothless organization,” the spokesperson concluded.