Celebrities back campaign for more fairness in farming - Fruit & Vine

Celebrities back campaign for more fairness in farming

The #GetFairAboutFarming campaign is encouraging the leading ‘Big Six’ supermarkets to adopt fairer principles for farmers – as research shows 49% of fruit and veg farmers fear closure within 12 months.

male farmer walking across a field carrying a sign that reads 'Get Fair About Farming'

Image © Stu Everitt

A new campaign backed by over 100 leading figures is urging supermarkets and the government to protect struggling British fruit and veg growers.

Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden, chef Rick Stein, musician and farmer Marcus Mumford and farmer Jimmy Doherty are among those to sign an open letter to the CEOs of the ‘Big Six’ supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl.

The petition has so far been signed by over 21,000 people.

It comes as half (49%) of British fruit and veg farmers said they were likely to go out of business within 12 months, with many citing supermarkets and their buyers as a leading threat to their livelihoods. This is according to new research by organic veg box company Riverford.

Supermarkets a ‘leading concern’ for fruit sector

Respondents criticised supermarkets and their buyers for not paying on time, pursuing cheaper food alternatives from overseas, and cancelling or changing orders at the last minute. Fruit and vet specifications are also too difficult and complex, farmers said.

Three quarters of those surveyed said supermarket behaviour is a leading concern in the industry, and one in five (22%) reported wasted crop due to cancelled orders. Meanwhile, 29% had experienced a cancelled order with no explanation and just under a third have seen supermarkets fail to pay within 30 days.

The majority of farmers said that it would have a positive impact if buyers bought everything they committed to buy (67%) and if they paid the amount initially agreed and did not slash prices afterwards (70%).

It’s not just supermarkets – over half of horticultural farmers (54%) believe farming is at the bottom of the government’s list of priorities. Many said tougher regulations are needed to redress the imbalance of power between farmers and the supermarkets and their buyers.

Calls for greater fairness in farming

The #GetFairAboutFarming campaign, launched by Riverford, is calling for supermarkets to adopt better business practices to safeguard the future of British fruit and veg farming.

This starts with committing to Riverford’s Fair to Farmers charter principles of:

  • Pay what you agreed to pay
  • Buy what you committed to buy
  • Agree on fair specifications
  • Commit for the long term
  • Pay on time.

Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson said: “British Agriculture is on its knees, and that’s why most small family farms think that they’re not going to be in business the next generation.

“Is that what we want from our countryside? Is that what we want from our food system? Is that what we want from farmers? Farmers need to be treated fairly; they need some commitment from supermarkets.”

To sign the petition visit: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/643216

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