Prime minister Tony Blair has confirmed that Labour is keen to push ahead with a far-reaching inquiry into farming ­ and not just sponsor an inquest into the outbreak of foot and mouth. There have been fears that the inquiry would be downplayed by Labour when, as expected, it returns to power next week. Speaking on the 100th day of the crisis, Blair said: "Once this disease is out of the way, if I am elected, we will sit down and try to work out a proper, viable and sustainable way forward for the farming industry, which I believe is desperately needed." Northern Foods chairman, and Labour peer, Lord Haskins this week urged the next government to launch a "more fundamental" re-examination of the relationship between supermarkets, food processors and farmers. Lord Haskins believes such an inquiry should focus on whether the country's farming community has the right infrastructure and investment. His call for action comes as more groups take an active interest in farming issues, particularly animal welfare and sustainability. The RSPCA last week issued a Future of Farming action plan, while the National Trust is due to unveil its Blueprint for Farming in July. Their interest is only adding to the pressure for some radical changes to be made in the farming sector ­ changes that would inevitably impact on the entire food supply chain. However, Helen Lo, marketing director of the National Farmers' Union, said the food industry should be leading the way ­ rather than waiting for the government to act. Any MAFF sponsored inquiry into foot and mouth would be "looking back at what went wrong", she said. "We want to look forward." The meat industry takes a positive step forward next Tuesday when 22 executives representing all parts of the supply chain meet in London for the first gathering of a new forum facilitated by the Meat and Livestock Commission. The meeting is expected to agree on the formation of a number of working parties as well as immediate action plans for the industry ­ particularly those to promote recovery in sheepmeat. {{NEWS }}