Clive Beddall Supermarket leaders and the NFU are holding private talks about introducing an industry code of practice designed to protect farmers from retailers who abuse their buying power. The move follows last month's preliminary report of the Competition Commission when it made it clear it wanted to get to the bottom of whether retailer power prevented efficient suppliers from earning a reasonable return. Regardless of the findings of the CC probe, major multiples are said to be supportive of an industry code as is Ben Gill, president of the NFU and other other senior officials Industry executives stress talks are at an early stage, but one commented: "It shouldn't be beyond the wit of any of us to draw up a plan which suits everyone, before the CC forces a code upon us. "There's too much negative media comment about the supermarkets' relationships with the farmers. OK, we don't always see eye-to-eye particularly when it comes to the debate about farmgate prices and retail prices. But it's all about being part of a food chain, not a them and us' attitude." The Grocer understands that one of the major issues in the talks is centred around who would police the code and who would "own" it. Meanwhile, as reported on February 26, Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, Safeway and Morrisons are all engaged in face to face hearings with the CC this month. After these meetings it will decide if the stores operate against the public interest. {{NEWS }}