NFU urges MPs to back second reading of plan for grocery-market ombudsman

The NFU has called on Members of Parliament from all parties to support MP Albert Owen's Private Members' Bill to establish a grocery-market ombudsman when it comes before the House of Commons for a second reading at the end of this week.

NFU head of government affairs Terry Jones is speaking at a reception being held today (Thursday) on the eve of the Bill going before the House on Friday. After more than ten years of lobbying by the NFU and other organizations such as the British Independent Fruit Growers' Association (BIFGA) to see the introduction of the Grocery Suppliers' Code of Practice (GSCOP), which was introduced in February, Jones said the only way to ensure the Code is enforced proactively and robustly is through an independent ombudsman.

He said: "The new Code will only succeed if it is properly enforced and if that enforcer has teeth.

"This Bill provides a short cut to Government, to introduce an ombudsman so that suppliers have an independent, confidential means of reporting bad practice, such as retrospective demands for money and changes to trading terms. These are just some of the bullyboy tactics that have been reported to the NFU - and we want them to remain a thing of the past.

"There is a real danger that if the risks of retail supply begin to outweigh the rewards that suppliers will throw in the towel. This will mean that consumers will be the eventual losers. However, the new GSCOP, working hand in hand with an ombudsman, should provide greater certainty for producers and mean that they have confidence to invest in their businesses which will benefit consumers through increased choice and availability."


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