Supermarkets need to do more to support British farmers and pay them a fairer price for their produce, says the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
For 2013, the CPRE has launched its Vision for the Future of Farming and a landmark report on local food.
The rural conservation charity has called on bosses of the “big seven” supermarkets to improve the deal for the countryside, local food producers and farmers.
The three steps the CPRE wants to see supermarkets take are:
• Promote and expand more foods that contribute to protecting our landscape and help wildlife thrive.
• Trade with suppliers who provide British farmers and food producers with a fair price that takes into account the costs of production.
• Stock more local food, with at least 10% of the food sold in supermarkets sourced and supplied from within 30 miles, and clearly traceable as local.
The CPRE said our countryside depends on farmers and farming was important – not only because it produces the food we eat – but because it creates the “unique look of our countryside as it manages our landscape and wildlife”.
CPRE senior farming campaigner Ian Woodhurst said: “2012 has seen highs and lows for farming and the countryside. We’ve celebrated the 25th anniversary of green farming schemes that help protect and maintain our wonderful countryside.
“But dairy farmers have faced a crisis as the price they were paid for milk fell below the cost of production, and the bad weather has made growing food a real challenge.
“In response, some supermarkets started selling imperfect, ‘knobbly’, but still nutritious, fruit and veg to help overcome supply issues, a welcome and sensible step forward.
“Supermarkets have improved their environmental performance, particularly in terms of energy use. But there are other areas where CPRE believes they could do more, which is why our members are calling on them to make a new year’s resolution to give more support to the better management of our countryside, local food producers and farmers in 2013.”