Despite opposition, Parliament passes a controversial agriculture bill.


Despite criticism from different stakeholders, a revised amendment to the Agricultural Products Law (búvörulög) passed Tuesday, opening the door for a possible monopoly in the agricultural processing industry. Opponents claim the law goes too far and raise concerns about potential price increases for consumers.
Following three days of debate in Parliament, a revised amendment to the law on agricultural products was passed yesterday, reports. This was in spite of warnings from the Consumers’ Association, the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (ASÍ), and other stakeholders, as well as requests from the opposition to postpone the vote. says that the amended law, which was put out by the majority of the Industrial Affairs Committee (atvinnuveganefnd), has drawn criticism for being more expansive than the original draft. Twenty-six Members of Parliament supported the bill.A postponement was asked for by opposition members, such as Gísli Rafn Ólafsson of the Pirate Party, Hanna Katrín Friðriksson of the Reform Party, and Jóhann Páll Jóhannsson of the Social Democratic Alliance. without success. The modifications facilitate the consolidation of agricultural processing plants by exempting them from competition rules, among other reasons.

This implies that Agricultural Products Inc. will become the sole entity managing everything, establishing an effective monopoly in Iceland and having the power to hike prices for us consumers without allowing us to challenge it. In a speech before Parliament, Gísli Rafn said, “The same applies regarding what is paid to farmers, since there will only be one processing plant left.”The law is against the public interest, according to the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (ASÍ), the Commercial Workers’ Union (VR), the Consumers’ Association, the Federation of Trade and Services (SVÞ), and the Icelandic Federation of Trade, which have all issued warnings against its passing. Þórarinn Ingi Pétursson, the Progressive Party’s Chair of the Industrial Affairs Committee, contends that these modifications prioritize the needs of the consumer. “If there are no customers to buy their products, there won’t be any farmers.”

According to Þórarinn, there won’t be any domestic food production at all if farmers and processing facilities are unable to provide customers with premium products at competitive prices: Therefore, while talking about domestic food production, consumers always come first. We also need to remember that the food industry is competitive.

Farmers, according to Social Democratic Alliance chairperson Kristrún Frostadóttir, could not bear the status quo, but it seemed that “something has gone seriously wrong in the processing” of the law. It was decided to move forward with a defective bill rather than amending it internally in the ministry to provide exemptions to the agricultural industries that most needed them.

Regardless of the kind of livestock, the outcome is a broad exemption that might result in the construction of a single, sizable processing facility for all meat processing in the nation. Kristún said, “This was unnecessary, and the methodology used disadvantaged those who needed the changes the most.”

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