Public pressure mounts on supermarkets as more than 100,000 signatories back Riverford’s ’Get Fair About Farming’ campaign
In a landmark development for British agriculture, a campaign championing the plight of small-scale British farmers against supermarket giants is now set for a Parliamentary debate.
This follows huge public support, with over 100,000 people backing the #GetFairAboutFarming campaign, led by organic veg box company Riverford.
The campaign, which has garnered widespread attention since September, spotlights the challenging circumstances faced by British fruit and vegetable growers, who feel threatened by the buying practices of the ‘Big Six’ supermarkets.
Riverford’s own research showed that nearly half (49 per cent) of these growers are concerned about their survival over the next year, which is a startling indication of the crisis.
Will White, sustainable farming coordinator at Sustain commented: “’The huge support for Riverford’s petition underscores the public’s deep concern for ensuring farmers receive a fair deal. The immense top-down pressure from supermarkets forces farmers into a stark choice: intensify or quit.
“We need a supply chain that facilitates, not hinders, the shift to nature-friendly farming. Decisive government action and strong regulation is essential to stop major retailers’ exploitative practices and secure the future of fruit and vegetable production in the UK.”
Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson, who ignited the campaign, initially sent an open letter to the CEOs of the leading supermarkets, warning them that the British farming industry was “on its knees” and calling for fairer trading practices. Despite this, there has been a notable absence of response from the retail giants, even as over 100,000 customers sign the petition, and influential figures like Deborah Meaden, Rick Stein, and Chris Packham rally behind the cause.
Vicki Hird, strategic lead on agriculture, the Wildlife Trust said: “The huge problems farmers face are now recognised by the public as this great survey response shows. They see it’s bad news for consumers and wildlife and rivers too - how can farmers invest in wildlife friendly farming if they are squeezed ever harder by supermarkets and the supply chain? We need stronger and better regulations fast.”
Central to the campaign is a call to amend the Grocery Supply Code of Practice, to ensure that supermarkets are required to buy what they agreed to buy, pay what they agreed to pay, and pay on time, without exception.
The principles are taken from Riverford’s long-standing Fair to Farmers charter - a document devised by founder Guy Singh-Watson to lay down ethical business practices among growers and farmers, to ensure a fair deal is always achieved. Now Riverford wants supermarkets to adopt some of these principles as a way of spreading fair trade across the industry more widely.
As the campaign crosses the crucial 100,000-signature threshold, supermarkets now face the prospect of their practices being scrutinised in Parliament. This momentous occasion represents a turning point for British agriculture.
Singh-Watson said: “With the petition crossing the 100,000-signature threshold, we are knocking on the government’s door fed up with supermarket inaction as we push for tangible change through a Parliamentary debate.
“It’s time to expose the unfair practices of supermarkets and ensure a fair deal for our farmers by amending the Grocery Supply Code of Practice. It’s time to hold supermarkets accountable and secure a fair and sustainable future for our farmers.”
To show continued support for Riverford’s petition calling the government to intervene and protect Britain’s food system, people can sign the petition here: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/643216.