The European Commission has published an Inception Impact Assessment (IIA) on an initiative to "Improve the Functioning of the Food Supply Chain". Interested parties now have four weeks in which to respond to the IIA, which is an essential requirement of the process. The IIA sets out a series of objectives and policy options, notably in relation to unfair trading practices (UTPs), producer cooperation and market transparency.

It also usefully assesses the anticipated impacts of the initiative which include:
• putting the food supply chain on a fairer, sounder and more transparent footing
• helping to increase disposable farm income and making the sector more resilient to price volatility
• make farming more viable
• boost rural employment
• help to more fairly distribute the added-value generated by the supply chain

The IIA will be complemented by a public consultation on which the Commission is currently working with the intention of publishing it in the coming weeks. The public consultation, which will be available in all languages, will be open for a period of twelve weeks.

The publication of the inception impact assessment and the forthcoming publication of the public consultation follow-on from the recommendations of the Agricultural Markets Task Force in November 2016 as well as calls from the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to act in the area of UTPs.

This initiative also reflects the commitment in the Commission Work Programme to "consider further action as necessary to improve the position of farmers in the food supply chain, in the light of the outcome of the work of the AMTF and the High Level Forum for a Better Functioning of the Food Supply Chain."

Commenting on the latest developments, Commissioner Hogan said "the publication of the inception impact assessment and the forthcoming publication of the public consultation are two concrete steps towards addressing the shortcomings in the food supply chain which impact adversely on the producer, who is the key element in the chain and without whom there would be no chain. I encourage all interested parties to participate fully in this initiative, which I am confident will have a positive impact on the position of the farmer in the chain." 

The Commissioner went on to note that "the importance of the position of the farmer in the food chain was recognised in a Eurobarometer survey in October 2015, in which it was identified as one of the two highest priorities for citizens concerning the CAP, and in the recent public consultation on the modernisation and simplification of the CAP, in which 96 per cent of respondents said that improving the position of farmers in the value chain should be an objective of the CAP."