Farmers take on retailers

Welsh and Scottish farmers’ groups are launching a new round of lobbying for a fairer food chain with some protection from retailers’ buying tactics.

NFU Scotland started by reporting on the problems facing producers to a Holyrood inquiry in Edinburgh last week but has now taken its grievances to Westminster.

President John Kinnaird said: “Our ability to prosper in this business environment is being hampered by two serious competition issues.

“First, the treatment of farmer co-operatives by the competition authorities and second, how retailers use their increasing negotiating strength.

“Increasing our own strength in the market place is vital and co-operation within the industry is an obvious vehicle through which we can help ourselves.

“However, until our competition authorities send a clear signal that they recognise our market extends beyond our shores, attempts on this front will be stifled.”

The milk sector was suffering particularly from over-zealous regulation from competition watchdogs, he told MPs, ministers and the Office of Fair Trading.

Meanwhile, NFU Cymru and the Farmers Union of Wales met senior buyers from Tesco at the National Assembly in Cardiff this week.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan, said legislation was necessary to control the impact of retailers on producers.

“The FUW has made it clear on many occasions that we do not believe producers and other suppliers are given a fair deal by the major supermarkets.

“I am keen to hear what Tesco has to say about the situation.”