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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Member of Parliament for York Outer

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York Press column –  York’s path to normality and mental health investment

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Julian champions a fairer deal for fresh produce farmers

November 17, 2015

Today in Parliament, Julian led a debate calling for the Government to review the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA).

Julian raised concerns over the current resources, performance, and remit of the Adjudicator. Despite overseeing an industry that is worth £177 billion and employs 1 in 7 people in this country, the Adjudicator only works three days a week and has a staff of five employees.

Furthermore, despite being established over two years ago, the GCA has yet to complete a single investigation, nor has it made any decisions in any arbitration cases, nor has it imposed any enforcement measures. Concerns were also raised in the debate about the Adjudicator’s own survey showed that whilst the majority of suppliers had experienced unfair trading practices from the supermarkets, only a minority would consider raising the issue with the Adjudicator.

Leading the debate, Julian called for the remit of the Adjudicator to be extended to help stop supermarkets imposing unfair terms on producers of fresh produce. He said “The impact of poor practice, as in the past, has been to force producers out of business, increasing our reliance on imported food. Whilst the value of British fruit and vegetable production has fallen by 14% since 2010, imports from abroad have never been higher.”

“The Groceries Code Adjudicator could be playing a hugely positive role in helping dairy farmers by ensuring fairness right across the supply chain…. A Groceries Code Adjudicator that is properly resourced, has the right powers, and is acting proactively in the market has the potential to be a powerful source of fairness in a cut-throat industry. Anything less would be a missed opportunity, and British food producers and ultimately the end consumer will be all the poorer for it.”

In January the Prime Minister, David Cameron, had previously promised that the Government would look at extending the remit of the GCA in order to help dairy farmers. However the Business Minister, Anna Soubry, gave no indication whether this was still the case.

Following the debate Julian said “Whilst I am disappointed by the Minister’s current stance on this issue, I will continue to campaign to do everything I can to make sure we stamp out unfair practices right across the supply chain, from the farm gate to the end consumer”.