The NFU has said that new food supply chain measures announced by Government show a positive direction of travel in protecting the rights of farmers, but that the announcement does not go far enough.
In response to part two of the Government’s GCA review, the NFU said it looks forward to working with Defra to develop the detail of these measures and improve them to ensure fairer and lawful supply chains for farmers.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said the response from Defra and BEIS does not show the full extension of the GCA, which the NFU has strongly made the case for – but, he added, there has been a shift from the status quo.
Mr Raymond continued: “The evidence within the GCA’s consultation shows that we have an imbalance of power within our UK supply chains. But the measures that have been announced to address this do not go far enough and it’s an opportunity missed. This, for us, is the beginning of a journey to improve the supply chain for our members.
“Dairy farmers already have contracts; what we’d like to see is minimum standards in those milk contracts to ensure that farmers are protected against unfair clauses such as those requiring exclusivity, unbalanced variation of terms and short notice price changes. And while we praise the step towards standardising sheep carcase classification, we still have multiple concerns as to transparency within the sheep meat sector that will need addressing.
“It’s clear the Government recognises that there is an imbalance of power in the food supply chain and that is bad for farm businesses and they are showing some positive will to address this. In addition, the £10 million collaboration fund will be welcome news for all farmers and we look forward to seeing more detail.
“What comes out strongly in this announcement is the fact that the GCA is here to stay – and not only that, the scope of the GCA has the potential to widen to include more businesses such as Boots and Amazon. This is positive for our industry and we again will be using this as an opportunity to push for further extension of the GCA role.
“The GCA plays an important role as watchdog for the industry, developing measures so that farmers can produce food for the supply chain in a fair and lawful way. The NFU will continue to work with the GCA herself and the team at Defra to ensure it’s working effectively. In that vein, we will be responding to the consultation which, we are pleased to see, has already been given a timeframe.”