Defra has announced that there was “not enough evidence” to support extending the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) to include primary producers.
Instead, the Government has announced a ‘collaboration fund’ of up to £10 million, as part of a series of measures to help farmers and small producers, designed in consultation with the farming industry.
In order to protect the rights of farmers and small producers, the Government is also introducing a requirement that slaughterhouses use a standard grid for the classification of sheep carcasses to help ensure farmers are paid per carcass in a “more transparent manner”, providing more certainty for farmers in the price they will get for their animals.
In addition, it announced a commitment to “work with industry to explore improving transparency and access to prices along the supply chain, to help farmers and small producers see if they are getting a fair deal for their produce”.
Regarding whether more grocery retailers could come under the remit of GCA, Defra also announced an assessment from the Competition and Markets Authority into the matter, while tackling late payments by “highlighting to farmers and small producers the role of the Small Business Commissioner”.
Announcing the measures, Farming Minister, George Eustice, commented: “This package of measures is designed to improve transparency and integrity within the food supply chain and to support collaborative business models where producers can come together to strengthen their position or work jointly on specific areas of work.
“Too often in the past, farmers have ended up being price takers and there have been too many instances where a lack of transparency in prices and charges by some processors has undermined the market. If we want a successful farming industry in the future then it is essential that we have properly functioning markets and that farmers receive a fair share of the value of the food they produce.”
Business Minister, Andrew Griffiths, added: “This Government’s Industrial Strategy is building a Britain in which suppliers of all sizes can get a fair deal. The Groceries Code Adjudicator has already made a significant impact, with suppliers reporting retailers’ improved compliance with the Code.
“Today’s announcement will build on this good work, protecting suppliers and ensuring their rights are enforced when it comes to late payments.”