Government fails to protect Food chain from power of Big Business
16th February 2018
The NBA were disappointed on hearing the Governments decision this morning not to extend the remit of the Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA) into UK law. Had it been extended it would have protected the primary producer, instead the Government has decided to maintain the status quo and protect large retailers.
Chris Mallon CEO of the National Beef Association (NBA) commenting on the decision said
“Understandably large retailers opposed the move to protect primary producers as their business model depends on controlling the market. However, the rest of the farming industry which represent farmers and small food businesses, had welcomed the opportunity to extend the GCA, a move which would have ensured transparency and given confidence to those producing food for British consumers.
It was a chance to put UK farmers ahead of the EU yet now EU farmers to be better protected than their British counterparts.”
The announcements of legislation around milk contracts is not revolutionary. Legislation on milk contracts was introduced by the EU in 2013 and has been available to be delivered by the Government since then and as such are not new tool.
Voluntary codes are proven not to work for either side, and the NBA welcome the Governments support of a move towards statutory codes of conduct.
The Collaboration Fund, the consolation prize handed down for not getting the protection of the GCA, appears to be only the amalgamation of existing programs. Time will tell if there are any significant benefits from this for primary producers. Its announcement includes well-worn phrases, such as, the need for economies of scale and sharing of market information, producer groups already do this, but they remain price takers.
The Government has missed an opportunity to give the agricultural industry a much-needed confidence boost at a time of great uncertainty.