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Supermarkets urged to help meet cost of caring for the countryside

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 28, 2012

The Campaign to Protect Rural England says the big name supermarkets need to do more to encourage better management of beautiful landscapes in areas such as the Westcountry

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A leading campaign group has called on supermarket bosses to make a New Year resolution to support the countryside by paying farmers a fair price for food.

The call comes at the end of a turbulent 12 months which saw protests and blockades of milk processing plants by dairy producers and calls for consumers to boycott superstores who failed to pay a "fair" farm-gate price for milk.

David Cameron has already vowed to stand up for farmers hit by the "unfair practices" of supermarkets through the introduction of a watchdog.

The Prime Minister is expected to unveil plans for a groceries industry code of conduct adjudicator in 2013.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England says the big names need to do more to encourage better management of beautiful landscapes in areas such as the Westcountry.

It wants the "big seven" to pledge their support for local food producers and pay a "fair price".

Ian Woodhurst, the CPRE's senior farming campaigner, said 2012 had seen "highs and lows" as the 25th anniversary of Green farming schemes was marred by a dairy crisis and the wettest summer for more than a century.

He added: "In response some supermarkets started selling imperfect knobbly but still nutritious fruit and vegetables to help overcome supply issues – a welcome and sensible step forward.

"Supermarkets have also improved their environmental performance, particularly in terms of energy use, but there are other areas where we believe they could do more to help make the future brighter for our countryside and for those who grow our food."

The Government plans to control supermarkets and prevent farmers being bullied by large buyers by giving its proposed new watchdog the power to "name and shame" big stores who fail to stick to an agreed code of conduct.

Andrew George, the Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives and chairman of the Grocery Market Action Group, has called for an end to delays which allow the 'bully-boy tactics' of some of the supermarket buyers to continue.

The CPRE, which published its Vision for the Future of Farming report this year, wants stores to "source, stock, and promote" more foods that "contribute towards managing our landscape and its wildlife".

It says they should "take fully into account" the cost of production when buying from their suppliers.

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