Riverford ‘fair deal’ farming petition tops 60,000 signatures

A petition urging supermarkets and their suppliers to give fairer treatment to farmers has received more than 60,000 signatures, but the “big six” retailers remain silent on the issue.

If the #GetFairAboutFarming petition receives 100,000 signatures, it will be debated in parliament.

Organic fruit and veg company Riverford launched the campaign, which calls on the government to amend the Grocery Supply Code of Practice to require retailers to buy what they agreed to buy, pay what they agreed to pay and pay on time.

See also: Video: British farming ‘on its knees’ – Riverford founder

An open letter sent to the chief executives of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl just over two weeks ago asked them to treat farmers fairly and warned that the British farming industry was “on its knees”.

However, there has been a “deafening silence” from the big six supermarkets.

Research by Riverford Organic Research found 49% of fruit and veg farmers fear closure within 12 months, with supermarket buying behaviour a leading cause.

Guy Singh-Watson, founder of Riverford Organic, said: “The reaction and level of support for this campaign has been very encouraging.

“The supermarkets must act now. This marks a critical moment where we can take a stand against harmful practices, and create a better, fairer future for British food and farming.”

Groundswell of support

More than 100 leading figures have backed the campaign, including entrepreneur Deborah Meaden, TV presenters Julia Bradbury, Chris Packham and Jimmy Doherty, and chefs Rick Stein and Melissa Hemsley.

Musicians including JLS singer JB Gill and Marcus Mumford, of Mumford and Sons, have also added their support, alongside industry bodies Sustain and Soil Association.

Natalie Bennett, the former leader of the Green Party, also backed the campaign, saying in the House of Lords: “Farmers suffer major economic loss and a huge amount of food is wasted because supermarkets order food and then refuse to take it and to put it on the shelves and it rots in the fields.”

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