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Tories pledge to take on supermarkets

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Announcing a strategy for agriculture today at the Oxford Farming Conference, the Tories will promise to create a new supermarket ombudsman who will settle disputes between large food retailers and suppliers.

They pledged to bring in a “new age of agriculture” if they are brought to power in a general election this year.

Small food producers, the bulk of which are farms, have an uneasy relationship with supermarkets. Some big chains have been accused of forcing down prices and slapping arbitrary rules on suppliers which are damaging to small businesses.

At the conference, shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert will say: "It is not enough to talk loosely about a fair market or the need for better labelling. We need action, with a supermarket ombudsman and legislation to enforce honest labelling if the retailers won’t act."

He will add: "While the government dithers the Conservatives are clear: we will introduce an ombudsman to curb abuses of power which undermine our farmers and act against the long-term interest of consumers."

The Labour Party is also about to publish a food manifesto, focusing on "meat free" Mondays, new allotments and strategies to cut waste and harmful emissions.

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