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Groceries adjudicator Bill will help protect Isles farmers

May 26, 2011 3:11 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael today welcomed the introduction of a draft Bill that will establish a Groceries Code Adjudicator as an important step towards making the relationship between major retailers and small producers fairer.

The Bill is designed to enforce compliance with the groceries supply chain code of practice and prevent abuses of power throughout the supply chain. It will create a formal body to act as arbitrator in disputes between retailers and suppliers, as well as investigate allegations of breaches of the groceries code. Liberal Democrat Consumer Minister Ed Davey published the draft Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill at Westminster earlier this week for pre-legislative scrutiny.

At present, guidelines covering how supermarkets and other large buyers should act when dealing with small scale suppliers are only voluntary. Mr Carmichael has campaigned on this issue over a number of years. He has argued in the past that the voluntary code offered farmers and other producers insufficient protection.

Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:

'The announcement this week has been a long time coming, but I am pleased that we are now finally seeing real progress on this issue. I have long been of the view that there is a very significant imbalance of power between farmers and major supermarkets and this Bill will go some way towards putting that right.

'It is vital that bigger retailers are not allowed to abuse their market share. Under the voluntary system that we have at present, small local suppliers have too often seen their profits squeezed to nothing as the supermarkets sought to cut prices without taking a financial hit themselves.

'The creation of an adjudicator will be an important step towards ensuring that farmers and other producers get a fair deal from retailers.'