Be fair about planting – evil leeks

Every day, my mother would cook lunches for the family, farm employees, and anyone who passed by. It was great food, made with great ingredients – with minimal fuss, no packaging, and no supermarkets quadrupling the price. When I was a kid, I thought everyone ate this way. Those lunches inspired a lot of what I did at Riverford; Like most farmers, I love feeding people and have dedicated my working life to doing it well. However, farmers cannot continue to feed us if they are denied commitment and security and do not make a fair and reasonable profit.

During 50 years of agriculture, the proportion of food prices that actually goes to farmers has declined relentlessly. Instead, more money goes to supermarkets and food manufacturers. This power imbalance, coupled with climate change and erratic government policy, has brought the agricultural industry I love to its knees. Nearly half (49%) of British fruit and vegetable growers fear they will go out of business within the next year. Supermarket behavior is the main reason.

We have written an open letter to the CEOs of the Big Six supermarkets, urging them to adopt five key principles from our Charter.

The exploitation of many small producers by a few powerful large retailers, pushing surviving farmers into increasingly environmentally destructive practices, is not a rule of nature. It is a political and social choice – and a better way is possible. Over 20 years, Riverford has developed a fair covenant for farmers. Unique in our industry, this humane and honorable document sets guidelines for us and our suppliers, ensuring that our relationships are fair and mutually beneficial. There is an independent ombudsman to resolve any disputes. After decades of building Riverford, our relationships with suppliers and the diverse businesses they support are what I’m most proud of.

We have written an open letter to the CEOs of the Big Six supermarkets, urging them to adopt five key principles from our charter: pay what you agree to pay, buy what you agree to buy, agree a fair specification, commit to the long term and pay on time. Government support is also crucial – so we are calling for three of these principles (commitments to agreed quantities and prices, and prompt payment) to be made legally binding for all supermarkets, without exception.

If you would like to help us save British family farms, please sign our petition at Thank you.

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