This is according to Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy. He said this speaking from an event in Brussels following a hearing in the Agriculture and Rural Affairs meeting.
Mr. Carthy said the commission have not reassured them that the deal will be completed, saying, “On Friday negotiating parties for the Dawn Meats/DunbiaMerger officially notified their intentions to swallow up remaining scraps of the processing market to competition authorities. Unfortunately, the Commission hasn’t set a very reassuring precedent when it comes to reigning in this complete usurpation of the meat processing market by these top actors.”
He pointed to the five weeks spent deciding the fate of the ABP Slaney merger as an example, “Last year Competition authorities spent a mere five weeks assessing the impact of the ABP/Slaney merger before authorising it.”
He says it is not realistic that decisions like these be made in a short period of time,"It is wholly inadequate to expect that a full picture of the bargaining position of Irish farmers could be deemed to be assessed in such a short period of time.”
“At the time, it was argued that this merger was “needed” in order to compete on international markets.
Carthy went onto suggest that if farmers claimed the merger was needed that maybe it would be approved, "If farmers were to follow this line of reasoning then it would seem a done deal that the Dawn Meats/Dunbia merger would be approved.”
He said the Commissioner responded to his questions earlier by casting fresh doubt on the merger, “In response to my questioning today however the Commissioner threw doubt on this latest merger, which would see over 50% the national cattle kill in Ireland controlled by two processing giants and price setters.”
He said that he urged said commissioner to look at farmer’s incomes and the effects this merger will have on them before making a decision, “I urged the Commissioner to stop and look at the effect these mergers were having on farmers’ incomes and bargaining position.”
Carthy said, "It is important that the Commission takes a much stronger position on what is happening in this sector before all independent processors are forced out of the market.
Carthy also spoke of farmers suspicions of prices due to the unfair Direct Payments made to some of these processors, "The fact that the controllers of these companies are pocketing upwards on three quarters of a million euro in Direct Payments, means that farmers have every reason to be suspicious of the prices they are being offered.”
Carthy said "She assured me that her assessment would assess the dangers of a duopoly effect in the Irish situation and that the prices farmers would be get as a result.”
Carthy concluded by adding that if the Commission do not look at Ireland as a special case, because of Brexit, then we must look for reform within the industry, "If the Commission is not prepared to assess the Irish situation through a special lens, then we need to look at reforming the way these mergers are authorised”