The competition Authority clarifies the rules of the game for the agricultural sector

In the agricultural world, the case of the “cartel of the endive” has marked the spirits. In 2012, the competition Authority had condemned the ten organizations of producers to € 3.6 million fine for price fixing. Yet, more than ever, farmers have expressed, at the States general of the food (EGA), the need to legally secure their actions in the light of competition law. To the extent that they are forced to organise themselves in the face of powerful industry and a distribution is always more concentrated. Entry by Bercy, the competition Authority has delivered its opinion, on Friday the 4th of may.

The Sages of the street of the Scale have attempted to clarify the rules of the game in the first place for the farmers concerned to get together in organisations of producers (OP) or associations of producer organisations (PDO). An approach often necessary to have the weight in trade negotiations, knowing that in 2016, there were in France 472 000 agricultural holdings, against 17 600 food companies and 4 large power plants to purchase the distribution. Today, there are 650 OP, mainly in the sector of milk, fruits and vegetables, and meat.

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The competition Authority considers that the judgment “endive” rendered by the european Court of justice in November 2017 and has informed the legal framework for the OP and the AOP. It provides that the practices of exchanges of strategic information, fixation of minimum selling prices or from discussions on the volumes within an OP or AOP beyond the competition law if they are necessary to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. On the other hand, the practices between several OP or AOP are likely to fall within the ambit of the law of agreements. The rules of “omnibus” in brussels has introduced a derogation from the law of agreements for the OP and the AOP, provided that they do not exclude competition.

Specific exemptions

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