John Wood The Code of Practice for supermarket buyers was top of the agenda at a major meeting at Defra's Nobel House HQ this week, which was chaired by food and farming minister Lord Whitty and attended by leading figures in food retailing. The meeting was convened to allow government and the retail sector to discuss the future of the food chain in the light of the Currry report into food and farming. The meeting was attended by executives from all the major multiples, a number of other key retailers, and representatives of the Association of Convenience Stores, the British Retail Consortium and the Federation of Wholesale Distributors. Lord Whitty emphasised that the government would like more retailers and other buyers to sign up voluntarily to the Code of Practice but there was opposition from a number of those present. It was pointed out the code was drafted with very large retailers in mind and it could not be easily implemented by smaller buying organisations. Retailers also pointed out that if the code was intended to protect farmers, then major manufacturers, who deal directly with farmers far more, ought to be covered by it as well. The future of the little red tractor scheme was hotly debated with some retailers suggesting it had failed to establish itself. They also resisted suggestions they should provide more funding and support for the scheme. Other subjects covered during the wide ranging two-hour debate included the government's organics policy, local sourcing and food miles. The meeting was a chance for the government to outline its thinking as its draws up its policy document on sustainable food and farming in response to the Curry report. Sources suggest the policy document would be drafted in the next two weeks. A Defra spokeswoman said: "We need to come up with a response which is realistic and has the backing of all parts of the industry. The meeting was part of that process." {{NEWS }}