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Landowners stoke-up supermarket row

[Wednesday 15 March 2006]

LANDOWNERS and farmers who have been campaigning against the big supermarket chains for almost a decade have stoked up the row by demanding that the Government appoint an Ombudsman to ensure that the giant retailers stick by any agreements they make in future.

CLA: "supermarkets reneged on the last voluntary
agreement on farm prices "

As Daelnet reported on Monday, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has announced a second enquiry into the way the national chains are putting small, locally-owned shops out of business and the bankruptcies they have caused to farmers and market gardeners by forcing down the price of the produce they buy.

But Yorkshire members of the Country Business and Land Association (CLA) are demanding more. The association claims that the supermarkets reneged on the last voluntary agreement on farm prices so now it wants a government appointed Ombudsman to police any future deals.

"We're concerned at retailer dominance of the food supply chain and the big supermarkets' continued abuse of their market position through the use of pricing mechanisms such as below-cost selling and price flexing so we are pleased that the OFT has taken a fresh look at the sector," says CLA Yorkshire regional director, Dorothy Fairburn.

Miss Fairburn said that the Competition Commission's 2000 inquiry came up with "a toothless Code of Practice." She said she hoped that, in this case, the Competition Commission would propose "stronger, more effective, measures."

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