FARMING MATTERS: Support dairy farmers’ call for a fairer price

Andrew Critchlow, NFU Derbyshire County Adviser
Andrew Critchlow, NFU Derbyshire County Adviser

Many will remember that last summer dairy farmers lobbied shoppers, the Government and supermarkets to make everyone aware of the price cuts milk processors were imposing, under the #SOSDairy campaign.

Again there is unrest in the dairy world for although the UK farm gate milk prices are near top of the EU price league, this is due mainly to prices falling in other EU countries.

The poor weather has meant a longer winter so more dairy and livestock farmers are spending more on bought in feed, which is a lot more expensive due to lower crop yields, related to last year’s bad weather.

This has left most dairy farms making little or no profit and perhaps even a loss.

Should dairy farmers protest again?

The answer is dividing the industry with some mounting protests but the majority believing now is not appropriate.

Why? World milk commodity prices are rising primarily fuelled by increasing demand from China, but also because of lower production in New Zealand and Australia brought about by drought in those countries.

The recent reports of supermarkets rationing baby milk powder were related to the high demand for milk products in China.

The sticking point in the UK is that milk destined for cheese production is not attracting the price it should do.

One cheese processing company has offered a price increase and it is hoped others will quickly follow, otherwise the supermarkets could find that cheese becomes difficult to source as milk supplies are switched to other commodities such as skimmed milk powder and butter.

For direct action to succeed there needs to be public and political support, which there does not appear to be to the same level as last year.

Detailed discussions are on-going with supermarkets and processors, hopefully common sense will prevail soon and all dairy farmers will receive a fair price for their milk.

What can you do help?

Please support our British dairy farmers and make sure you buy cheese that carries the Red Tractor logo – this shows it is made with British milk and has not just been packed here.