A new liaison panel to strengthen communication links between consumers, food producers and policy makers in the Irish Republic, has been established by agriculture minister Joe Walsh. The membership includes representatives of the Irish Consumers' Association, RGDATA, Tesco, Superquinn and SuperValu, as well as trade unionists and community leaders. According to the minister, the panel "will ensure the consumer's view is taken into account in policy formation and the day-to-day activities of the department". As the initiative was being announced, the chief executive of the Irish Consumers' Association, Dermot Jewell, was calling for the appointment of a minister for food who would be separate from the Department of Agriculture. "The interests of farmers and of consumers are very different," he said. "That is especially true when it comes to the price and quality of food. It is wrong that they should be lumped together." {{NEWS }}