Over 80,000 shoppers have signed a petition urging the ‘Big Six’ supermarkets and their suppliers to treat British farmers more fairly as part of the #GetFairAboutFarming campaign.

The #GetFairAboutFarming campaign was launched by Riverford, an organic fruit and vegetable box company.

An open letter was sent to the CEOs of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl over six weeks ago warning that the British farming industry was “on its knees”. Riverford said that none of the supermarket chiefs have acknowledged the campaign as of yet.

The petition calls for the Government to amend the Grocery Supply Code of Practice (GSCP). The proposed amendments would see supermarkets required to buy what they agreed to pay, and pay on time, without exception.

The principles are taken from Riverford’s Fair to Farmers charter – a document devised by founder Guy Singh-Watson to lay down ethical business practices among growers and farmers, to “ensure a fair deal is always achieved.”

Riverford said that it had a “long-standing ‘Fair to Farmers’ charter”, and that it wanted to see supermarkets adopt some of these principles as a way of spreading fair trade across the industry more widely.

Green Party peer Natalie Bennett, and former Leader of the party, backed the campaign and raised it to the House of Lords. She said: “A handful of big supermarkets have a huge – a dominant – role in British life, their actions crucial in the cost-of-living ‘crisis’, for food security in an insecure world and the fate of farmers and the countryside.

“With that power comes responsibility to engage with their critics and questioners, not to ignore them. Society has privileged the supermarkets, carries many of the costs their choices impose on it – from waste disposal to congestion, and in return deserves openness and honesty.”