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Fair deal for Cheshire farmers welcomed by local Lib Dems

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Farmers and food producers in Cheshire West and Chester will have a fairer deal from supermarkets thanks to the actions of Liberal Democrat ministers in the Coalition Government.

After years of complaints from farmers about unfair trading practices by the big supermarkets that saw local food producers squeezed heavily, a Groceries Supply Code of Practice was introduced in early 2010. But a voluntary agreement to set up an Adjudicator to police the system was never reached.

In December, Lib Dem Competition Minister Jo Swinson MP announced plans to create a powerful Adjudicator to ensure the big supermarkets stick to the code and treat local farmers fairly. “This new Adjudicator will have tough powers to ensure farmers here in Cheshire and across Britain are treated fairly by the big supermarkets,” said local campaigner Neil Christian.

“Too often, the farmer or small supplier is squashed under the might of the major supermarkets. That is why Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for a strong, independent regulator that has real teeth to stand up for smaller suppliers. Liberal Democrats are working hard to create a stronger economy and that means we need to ensure everyone is treated fairly and the Grocery Code Adjudicator is an important step forward.”

Jo Swinson MP said, “The food industry plays an important role in economic growth, and the Groceries Code Adjudicator will help to ensure that the market is operating in a fair and healthy way. Large supermarkets form a big chunk of this industry and generally provide consumers with low prices and variety whilst providing business for farmers and suppliers. But where supermarkets are breaking the rules with suppliers and treating them unfairly, the Adjudicator will make sure that they are held to account. We expect fines to be used as a last resort, but the fact that the Adjudicator has the power to impose them will send a strong message to retailers that compliance with the Code is not optional. I am confident that these changes will mean that the Adjudicator is able to ensure fair play in the food supply chain and keep the industry growing.”

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