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Tenant Farmers Association says OFT not up to job
08/08/05

The Tenant Farmers Association has reacted angrily to the conclusion of the Office of Fair Trading that the current supermarket code of practice should remain unchanged.

TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn said "the compliers of the report are either guilty of unforgivable naivety or deliberate obfuscation to have come up with a conclusion like that. If that is the best that they can do then it simply is not good enough. Supermarket dominance is the key issue that has caused farm gate prices to fall to unsustainable levels and caused farm businesses up and down the country to the wall".

The OFT said that it was not for them to "shield suppliers from hard bargaining driven by supermarket competition".

"We wouldn't mind if there was some bargaining but farmers have no bargaining power in this process. Farmers have to take the price they are given" said Mr Dunn.

Unlike other sectors, including those which supply farming with inputs, in farming it is impossible to use cost of production as a basis for establishing prices.

"I talk to farmers every day and they ask me how long they are going to have to accept prices for their goods much below costs of production. This is unsustainable whatever way you look at it. It's not just prices, with all contract terms farmers are often left in a take it or leave it scenario. As supermarket profits boom farming profits are non existent" said Mr Dunn.

"It is amazing that in the face of rampant criticism about the current code from groups representing farmers, consumers, environmentalists and local communities that the OFT can conclude that nothing is wrong. Its staff needs to get out onto farms so that they hear the real stories. Of course farmers are frightened of complaining publicly for fear of losing any hope of selling their goods. This is the extent of the arm lock within which supermarkets are holding farmers. The Prime Minister has recognised it so why can't the OFT? Perhaps its time for the Prime Minister to appoint a body which does and is prepared to leave its comfort zone to do something about it" said Mr Dunn.

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Tenant Farmers Association
Tenant Farmers Association