Farmers in East Devon work around the clock to keep great quality food on our plates.

They deserve a fair price for their produce. And they deserve fair practices from supermarkets.

I stood up in Parliament last week to back a petition signed by over 800 East Devon residents. The petition calls for reform of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, which governs how the big supermarkets treat their suppliers.

As I argued in Parliament, supermarkets should buy what they agree to buy, pay what they agree to pay, and pay on time.

I also argued the Code of Practice needs to be updated to include farmers who do not supply directly to supermarkets.

Supermarkets occupy a privileged and dominant position—and that can be abused. That is why I pressed the Farming Minister to look at using powers under the Agriculture Act to address contractual unfairness. Strong action is undoubtedly needed, and the Minister confirmed the government’s intention to introduce new legislation governing dairy contracts before Easter and pig contracts in the summer.

I am certainly no stranger to ruffling a few government feathers on farming. In the summer of 2020, I supported an amendment to the Agriculture Act on food standards, tabled by Neil Parish.

My priority is to make sure the voice of local farmers is heard by government.

I regularly hold farming roundtables across my constituency with local farmers to hear their concerns, the most recent ones being in Talaton and Sidford. I also welcomed the Farming Minister to Ottery St Mary last year, a visit attended by a range of local dairy, livestock, and horticultural farmers.

A few weeks ago, I signed a letter led by a Conservative MP calling for supermarkets to introduce a ‘Buy British’ button on their websites. The government, for its part, fully backs this campaign. But it’s disappointing that only Morrisons has stepped up to the plate so far. It’s not asking for a lot, is it?

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