Exclusive Clive Beddall Leaders of three major food chain groups have united to put the case for a continuing "profitable and sustainable food chain" to DEFRA secretary of state Margaret Beckett. With a much publicised, far-reaching independent commission on farming and food supply issues looming, NFU president Ben Gill, BRC president Sir David Sieff and FDF president Peter Blackburn have signed a joint letter to the secretary of state. The trio have told Beckett that it would be useful for the commission "to explore the mechanisms by which market signals for customers are transmitted down the food supply chain, and how they could be made to function more efficiently". In what is described as a "wholly constructive and helpful move", the three have also emphasised the "highly competitive market conditions" under which the food chain operates, and the fact that food prices have stayed consistently below RPI over the last decade. The three groups' comments will be welcomed across the food industry. When news of the commission was first revealed, in Labour's election manifesto, many in the trade were fearful that the terms of reference might include too strong an emphasis on rural development issues at the expense of specific food chain matters. It's understood that the letter follows recent regular joint meetings of leading food chain organisations which, in addition the trio, also includes the IGD. Details of the commission's terms of reference, expected to be unveiled soon, are eagerly awaited. Its work is likely to be preceded by massive lobbying from rural groups. {{NEWS }}