§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to help farmers to develop a better relationship with supermarkets. [675751
§ Mr. Morley
[holding answer 9 July 2002]: The majority of farmers do not deal directly with supermarkets. However, those that do may benefit from the supermarkets Code of Practice which the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced on 18 December 2001. Although the Code is currently binding only on the four largest supermarkets, we have been encouraging smaller supermarkets and larger processors to sign up to its principles and practices.
The Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food stressed the potential of collaborative ventures for all farmers, large and small, and pointed out that collaboration can put farmers in a better negotiating position when dealing with large customers. We support this view and are looking at ways in which we might encourage greater collaboration between producers. We have already proposed that one of the priorities of the new Agricultural Development Scheme will be projects promoting co-operation and collaboration benefiting primary producers. We have also been considering with others the Policy Commission's Recommendation for the establishment of an English Collaborative Board that would encourage and support collaboration and co-operation among farmers.