Gill to press supermarkets on code

17 November 2000

Gill to press supermarkets on code

By Alistair Driver

FARMERS leaders will ask supermarkets to press on with a legally binding code of practice to rein in their power over suppliers, at a meeting next week.

Representatives from across the supply chain meet at the food industry forum in London on Thursday (23 November).

The gathering at Ministry of Agriculture headquarters will be chaired by farm minister Nick Brown and confined to “English affairs”.

National Farmers Union president Ben Gill said progress must be maintained from Marchs Downing Street farming summit.

Then the whole food chain committed itself to working together at the previous summit, said Mr Gill.

Progress has been made on developing a voluntary code of practice that would strengthen the position of farmers relative to their supermarket buyers, he said

But last month the Competition Commission recommended a legally binding code of practice.

“Work on the legally binding code must be carried out urgently – farmers and growers are desperate to see it set up to provide more security in their dealings with the supermarkets,” he said.

The NFU will also use the summit as a platform to push for a reduction in red tape, following the Governments commitment in March to tackle it.

Mr Gill said this weeks report by the Better Regulation task force must be the start, not the culmination of these efforts.

And he said the continuing threat of the pesticides tax and the serious implications of the Nitrates Directive must be acted upon.

Desperately needed cuts in Meat Hygiene Service charges for smaller abattoirs are also needed, he said.

Mr Gill said: “The Downing Street summit was crucial in demonstrating to the farming industry that government was serious about its survival.

“This momentum on the important commitments given has to be kept up.”

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