A SOMESET MP has called for 'fairness' in the grocery supply chain.

According to research carried out by Opinion Matters on behalf of Riverford Organic Farmers, 49% of British fruit and vegetable farmers fear they will go out of business within the next 12 months. Three quarters of those said that supermarket behaviour is a 'significant' factor. 

Sarah Dyke, MP for Somerton and Frome, met with Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson on January 9, to discuss the Get Fair About Farming Campaign

The pair discussed the power imbalance between supermarket buyers and farmers, the potential for biodiversity loss as small family farms leave the market and the importance of honesty and transparency in the supply process.

An online petition called for the Groceries Supply Code of Practice to be amended to protect farmers attracted nearly 113,000 signatures. The Somerton and Frome constituancy was in the top five for signatories nationwide. 

The petition prompted a parliamentary debate earlier this week, in which Ms Dyke demanded a fair deal for the work farmers do and the food they supply.

“Polling from More in Common shows that 88% of the public think it is important that farmers are paid fairly for their work, and they would even pay a little more if they knew the money went to support British farming," she said.

"However, food does not need to be expensive; just a bigger proportion needs to go back to the farmer. Tackling contractual unfairness in the agrifood supply chain is central to ensuring fairness. Farmers are operating in a marketplace where they have little control or say over who they sell their produce to."

South West Farmer: Sarah Dyke on a farm. Sarah Dyke on a farm. (Image: Sarah Dyke)

As part of the Get Fair About Farming Campaign, an open letter called on supermarkets to make five commitments to farmers: 

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

Many high-profile names, including TV chef Rick Stein, conservationist Chris Packham and musician and farmer Marcus Mumford signed the letter.