A better functioning food supply chain must be central to the UK’s post Brexit planning to stop farmers being left to bear the brunt of its failings, according to the Tenant Farmers Association.
Stephen Wyrill, the group’s national chairman wants broader powers for the Government’s Groceries Code Adjudicator to punish unfair practices.
Mr Wyrill, who farms near Catterick, said: “There’s a growing recognition that the food supply chain is dysfunctional and all too often it’s the farming community which bears the brunt of the problems that this produces. Poor returns, last-minute changes in orders and specifications, unfair competition from abroad and poor labelling are all contributing to the pressures at farm level.
“Well-meaning initiatives aimed at improving supply chain relationships on a voluntary basis have failed to have the necessary traction across the board.
“We must deepen and broaden the Adjudicator’s powers and work to address problems in other areas.”
The TFA has responded to the Government’s consultation on the performance of the Groceries Code Adjudicator by calling for her remit to be extended to look at relationships between farmers and processors in the retail supply chain; to have responsibility for reporting how returns within supply chains are shared; and the ability to instigate short or ‘no notice’ inspections of processors and retailers to ensure compliance with fair trading rules.
Mr Wyrill said: “There is much talk about the need to create a more resilient agricultural sector.
“We need to have access to the full toolkit of measures including a lion of an Adjudicator with the teeth to make a difference.”
As the UK’s first Groceries Code Adjudicator, Christine Tacon currently oversees the implementation of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice by the 10 large grocery retailers with only their direct suppliers.