Friday, 21 August 2015

MK comment on crisis in dairy farming

In this week’s Cornish Guardian, my article focussed on the crisis affecting dairy farmers. It was as follows:

Well done to all those farmers who, last week, staged imaginative protests against a number of large supermarkets, which have not been paying producers a fair price for their milk.

It must have been quite a sight to see a couple of cows being led through one of Asda’s stores in the Midlands.

There have been numerous reports that some of the supermarkets have “bowed to pressure” and agreed that the farmers, in future, would be paid more.

I understand that Aldi, Lidl and Asda have promised to pay a minimum of 28p a litre, while Morrison has pledged a figure of 26p a litre.

This may be better than the average price paid to farmers – reported in numerous newspapers of 23.66p –but it is a disgrace that the payments are below the average production costs of 30p for a litre of milk.

The Government does have a Supermarket Ombudsman within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – otherwise known as the Groceries Code Adjudicator – to regulate the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers.

But this is just one person and the “adjudicator” is plainly failing to combat the dominance of the supermarkets.

This situation is still untenable. Dairy farmers and other primary producers need Cameron and his Ministers to intervene and to regulate the big supermarkets, to stop them forcing down farm prices to uneconomic levels.

The situation is dire and the NFU is doing a fantastic job in pointing out the precarious nature of future food production in the UK and the impact on the wider countryside.

As they recently told politicians; “Plummeting farm gate prices, a continued downward trend in global markets for household essentials like milk; and supermarkets continuing to devalue food have all highlighted the dire situation many British farmers are facing.”

They have also released figures showing that the United Kingdom only produces 62% of the food we consume. Or as they put it: “August 14 marks the day in the calendar when the British larder would run bare if we fed the nation British food from January 1.”

The NFU President Meurig Raymond has rightly described this as a “wake-up call” and demanded that the farming sector is “recognised not just as producers of quality food, but also for the value added to the economy, employment and our beautiful and diverse countryside.”

I just hope that the Government is listening.

1 comment:

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