So what the government quaintly describes as "the good behaviour code for supermarkets and suppliers" has finally been released by secretary of state Patricia Hewitt. And not before time. The silence which has prevailed on the issue since the election, as far as Her Majesty's Department of Trade and Industry was concerned, has been deafening. And that was frustrating for the food chain brains who had worked on such an important project only to be left waiting in the wings. But it is interesting that, after such a lengthy consultation process ­ plus umpteen drafts ­ so many of the pleas made by farmers and small producers have apparently been disregarded by the OFT and the DTI. And it's surely a nonsense, remembering the sources of some of the more imaginative buyer bullying allegations in recent times, that the code should only apply to the top four and not the rest of the multiple fraternity. But, the appearance of a document which the farmers have condemned as inadequate, the FDF has greeted with caution, and the PTF says is "toothless", leads me to question what it will do to the newly forged stronger relationships between retailers and the farming community. There has been encouraging progress in the behind-the-scenes discussions to unite the food chain. More of the sector accepts the "we're all in this together" maxim as the challenges of life after foot and mouth loom. Yet while it would be a pity if the code soured those new-found relations, it is a harsh fact of UK grocery life that whatever the CEOs may utter publicly, the responsibility for what the DTI calls "reasonableness" between producer and store can still lie squarely in the hands of over zealous, profit-seeking buyers. So if a code is to become a standard for the industry to put its commercial relationships on a consistently better footing, the bigger brains of the chain have a lot more talking to do. Goodwill must prevail on all sides ­ whatever the government may threaten. Patricia Hewitt's announcement is far from being the end of the story. Clive Beddall, Editor {{OPINION }}