Supermarket watchdog plea

FARMERS’ leaders are calling for action on creating a ‘supermarket watchdog’ to police the grocery supply chain.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is calling on the Government to bring forward a Bill to establish a Groceries Code Adjudicator as a matter of urgency.

The Groceries Supply Code of Practice came into force two years ago, but no monitoring or enforcement body has yet been put in place.

The NFU’s Nick Von Westenholz said: “While we await the introduction of a GSCOP Adjudicator, we continue to hear of suppliers being squeezed ever tighter by the major supermarkets, damaging the long terms prospects of primary producers, as well as the interests of consumers.

“The Coalition Government has committed to introducing an Adjudicator and last year published a draft Bill setting out its proposals. We have some concerns about the powers that will be available to the Adjudicator and have made clear to the government how we believe the Bill can be improved.

“However, without an actual Bill, these arguments are entirely academic. It is no secret that the House of Commons is currently under-employed with regard to the amount of legislation passing through the Chamber. The NFU believes that, given the cross-party support for the Adjudicator, and the fact that two select committees of MPs have already examined the draft Bill, there is no reason the formal Bill can’t be introduced during the final months of the current Parliamentary session.

“This would mean an Adjudicator could be up and running by the end of the year and at last we may have a referee to go along with the rulebook come the third anniversary of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice in 2013.”