Farmers north of the border are lobbying Scottish parliamentarians to protect them from supermarkets.

James Withers, deputy chief executive of the NFU Scotland, told a Holyrood inquiry that the retailers’ code of practice had been a waste of time and called for legal changes to allow the creation of big farm co-ops.

“Scottish farmers are not looking for any special favours, simply a fair trading environment.

The market and political environment is failing these family businesses and it will ultimately have huge knock-on effects for the countryside, rural communities and consumers.”

The inquiry is being chaired by Sarah Boyack MSP, who has a track record of supporting calls for ethical consumption and fair trade.

She said the aim of the inquiry was to find ways of supporting Scottish farmers and rural communities.