NFU takes supermarket battle to Brussels

Farm leader Peter Kendall has called on Brussels to ensure growers and livestock producers get a fair deal from supermarkets.

The NFU president said European Union policy makers should tackle power imbalances in the supply chain to help farmers become more competitive.

EU institutions should work together to improve farmers’ bargaining position, Mr Kendall told MEPs, European Commission officials and other stakeholders in the European Parliament

“During times of economic hardship it is important to remember how important the agri-food sector is to the EU economy,” he said.

The NFU estimates that one in six jobs in the EU – equivalent to some 40 million people – depends on agricultural production.

“The EU agri-food sector offers massive potential to stimulate further growth, create jobs and opportunities especially in rural areas,” said Mr Kendall.

“But it can only do so if we have fair, functioning supply chains.”

CAP reform offered some opportunities to strengthen farmers’  position in the market place.

But Brussels should also consider how abuse of dominant market positions can be dealt with at an EU level by build on initiatives such as the UK’s Groceries Supply Code of Practice.

“As we see the grocery market consolidate and become more transnational, EU action will be needed to uphold fair trade across the single market.”

There had been some recognition of the need to rebalancing trading relationships through the work of the EU High Level Forum for a better functioning food supply chain, said Mr Kendall.

But he added: “I believe the EU Commission will need to go further and consider the use of legislation to prevent bad practices.”