Farmers challenge supermarkets

Farming leaders have challenged the supermarkets to honour the promises they have been making about corporate responsibility and a fair price to the nation's farmers and growers.

Speaking at the NFU annual conference today, president Peter Kendall said: "It is an encouraging sign that supermarkets are now falling over each other to paint themselves as the 'greenest' or 'most responsible' - but do they really mean it? Are businesses dedicated to competitive price cutting really committed to being fair to their suppliers?

"Or is it all about PR - about looking good because of customer expectation while still screwing down the price to the point where three dairy farmers are going out of business every day? The top-of-the-range, smaller volume retailers are treating their suppliers fairly but I have yet to see their practices becoming mainstream. I've been hearing the promises but so far I am seeing no delivery."

Speaking at the event in Birmingham, he said for many famers, prices were unsustainable. "If supermarkets want to be able to offer their customers the security and quality that comes with a UK supply base they need to do two things.

"Firstly they must understand the farming and growing businesses that comprise that supply base must be profitable and secondly they must be prepared to shoulder a much greater burden of responsibility and enter in to supply arrangements where efficient producers, and those who add value, can prosper. That's not just Corporate Social Responsibility; it is common sense."

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