Defra denies adjudicator delays

Agriculture minister Jim Paice has reasserted Defra’s commitment to implement the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA), after concerns emerged over possible delays.

He told Meat Trades Journal: “Nothing is delaying it. We promised we would do it, the department of business published the draft bill last summer and it went out to consultation. Various committees of parliament have looked at it and put forward their proposals. The department is now studying those ideas as to whether to change the bill with the original, and we hope they’ll come forward with the final version for parliament to consider some time in the not too distant future.”

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, labour MP and shadow secretary of state for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Mary Creagh expressed concerns over delays in implementing the Adjudicator. She said: “Labour in Government got cross-party agreement on the need for a Groceries Code Adjudicator to ensure a fair deal for farmers and producers. But we are worried by Government delays which mean that the adjudicator will probably not be up and running until 2014/15.”

Asked about that statement, Paice added: “I’m afraid she’s probably wrong, she doesn’t know the reality.”

BRC director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie, also present at the conference, said retailers complained certain aspects of the Adjudicator, mentioning “unnecessary burdens” and increased costs.

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