The Daily Telegraph reports that after Tony Blair unveiled his strategy for sustainable farming and food, the chairman of the Policy Commission on Farming and Food, Sir Don Curry, said a working group would investigate reports of supermarket bullying of farmers in contravention of the code, one of the main planks of the government's strategy.
Curry said: "We hear reports that farmers are fearful of reporting breaches of the code by supermarkets because they are scared of jeopardising their contracts. Clearly, after only a year in existence, the code is not working and needs review. Either the terms of the code are not sufficient or the appeals mechanism is inappropriate. It needs changing."
National Farmers’ Union president Ben Gill, said the code of practice “has not produced the results we hoped for”. He added that food in other parts of Europe was cheaper to consumers, yet their farmers were paid more for it. “That doesn't make sense. Trust is sadly lacking in many parts of the food chain," said Gill.
DEFRA secretary of state Margaret Beckett told the Financial Times that supermarkets had too much power over farmers - but ruled out tough action against them. She said the solution lay in increasing transparency in the food industry, not hardening the retailers’ code of conduct.