It's hardly surprising that the food and drink industry is not exactly rushing to sign up "voluntarily" to the government's code of practice for buyers. After all, the code was designed specifically to address the relationship between suppliers and the big four of Asda, Safeway, Sainsbury and Tesco ­ not the rest of the trade. Common sense would suggest if we already have an inadequate code ­ and we do ­ extending such a flawed concept to include all food and drink buyers in all sectors would be highly dangerous. Don't forget: the big four were involved in endless months of wrangling over the code's small print. Nobody else on the buying side had their say. Even the NFU's input was marginal. So how can anybody expect big foodservice operators or small retail groups to sign up to such a document? Already this week, wholesalers are pointing out that including them in the code's remit would be a recipe for disaster. They are not alone in thinking like that. After all, most of the country's smaller operators have very limited dealings with farmers. Their suppliers tend to be big corporations with whom they have very little clout. Yes, they may sometimes huff and puff, but very rarely does that achieve much. So they could well argue they need a code of practice for suppliers! Now, I don't blame the big four chains for trying to persuade the government to extend the code's remit. After all, the foodservice sector has plenty of players with massive buying clout, and there are plenty of equally big manufacturers out there. If the government truly believes a code of practice is the right way forward ­ and will help farmers (which I, for one, still doubt) ­ then the big retailers are right to argue that something similar should be applied to these sectors too. But to be effective, we need a code of practice that truly works up and down the entire food chain. What we currently have cannot be stretched any further. It may be time to go back to the drawing board. {{OPINION }}