The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is calling for the Government to break its silence on its plans for extending the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator to cover the whole of the retail supply chain.
TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn said “it is now a year since the end of the consultation on the need to extend the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator and yet the most we have been able to obtain from the Government is that it is still considering what it should do. We need to hear from the Government that it has decided to take the necessary, decisive action to bring forward the required legislation to extend the remit to allow regulation to take place throughout the retail supply chain.”
The current remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator allows it to regulate the direct supply contracts of the top 10 retailers in the grocery sector in the UK but does not allow the Adjudicator to look at contractual relationships deeper into the supply chain including those between farmers and processors were unfair trading practices can persist.
“We simply cannot look at one segment of the supply chain in isolation. In the past few months we have seen evidence of some processors willing to flout rules and regulations on food safety only to be exposed by secret filming. This is particularly galling for the farming community which is working hard to achieve high standards of production to the point of the farm gate and it erodes consumer confidence in the whole of the supply chain. The Adjudicator must be able to judge whether or not fair trading practices are operating throughout the retail supply chain and there is no excuse for further delay in allowing that to take place,” said Mr Dunn.
“As we gear up for a life outside of the European Union, the farming community is ready to embrace the opportunities and challenges that this will bring. However, it is essential that the Government does as much as it can to mitigate market failures that exist to prevent fair and sustainable trading. The dominance of retailers and major processors in the food supply chain is one such area in which the Government needs to take action. There is no point in driving higher standards in food production at the farm gate if those standards are simply to be undermined when product leaves the farm gate or if unfair contractual terms force UK farmers into liquidation making us more reliant upon imported product over which we will have little control of the standards to which it is produced,” said Mr Dunn.
“This is a matter primarily for the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy but inevitably the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs is also taking a great deal of interest and seems to have a greater sense of the need to move on this matter. If ever there was a time for joined up government, it is now,” said Mr Dunn.