We need witness protection, farmers tell Competition Commission

The Competition Commission is facing calls to implement a witness protection scheme so more farmers give evidence to its inquiry into supermarket power.

There is just one week left to submit evidence to the commission’s investigation into the market dominance of Britain’s big supermarket chains.

It has already offered to consider anonymity to farmers concerned that submitting evidence could jeopardise their supermarket contracts.

But NFU Scotland said the commission should go further – agreeing to fully closed hearings with full witness protection.

NFUS chief executive Andy Robertson said the “climate of fear” surrounding many supermarket suppliers threatened to limit the amount of evidence submitted.

“We will be impressing on the commission the need to have closed hearings with full protection for witnesses,” he said.

Nevertheless, Mr Robertson said anyone concerned about the power of supermarkets – or its misuse – should overcome their fears and write to the commission.

Although the union would be submitting its own response on behalf of members, it was also important for individual farmers to present evidence to the inquiry.

Mr Robertson said: “We’ve fought hard to get this inquiry so it is vital that the industry uses the opportunity to raise its concerns.

“We will be sending in our own detailed evidence, but this is an opportunity for individual producers on the ground to raise concerns they may personally have.”

Anyone needing advice on submitting evidence to the Competition Commission can contact NFUS Head Office on 0131 472 4006.

The deadline for submitting views to the Competition Commission’s inquiry is 7 June. Submissions can be emailed to groceries@cc.gsi.gov.uk.

Alternatively, write to:

The Inquiry Secretary (Groceries market inquiry)
Competition Commission
Victoria House
Southampton Row

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