Britain’s 14,500 dairy farmers are facing an uncertain future as supermarkets continue to seek to drive down the price of farm gate milk, this despite a voluntary dairy code of agreement reached in September 2012 after dairy farmers successfully blockaded supermarkets distribution centres in summer 2012.
Hundreds more dairy farmers could be forced out of business if the price paid by supermarkets for milk is not increased substantially, as many dairy farmers presently are not even covering the cost of production due to increased cost of feed, fuel and fertilizers.
The dairy farmers cause has been backed by celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall who have urged the public to boycott supermarkets that’s used milk as “a loss leader”
The growing militancy amongst dairy farmers has been driven by the grassroots Farmers For Action (FFA) established in May 2000 which was established as a result of disillusionment by the infectiveness of farming organisations, In April 2013 the FFA even pulled out of the SOS Dairy Coalition believing it was blunting FFA’s ability to fight the dairy farmers corner
FFA have organised numerous rallies of dairy farmers and coordinate blockades of supermarket depots in Cheshire, Derbyshire and West Yorkshire.
In a typical short sighted move UK supermarkets keen to source the cheapest possible milk and dairy produce are scouring Europe for the cheapest prices, while ignoring the plight of UK farmers. Over reliance on an extended food chain is not only environmentally damaging but undermines food sustainability and spells serious dangers as we recently witnessed in the horsemeat scandal.
Planning is vital in all aspects of farming and nowhere more necessary than in dairy farming, that’s why in America it is the “Dairy State” of Vermont that returns the only avowed socialist to the American Senate. Senator Sanders and his party the Vermont Progressive Party is the most successful third party in America
An estimated 50,000 farmers and farm workers are employed in UK dairy farming, their are 14,500 dairy farms in 2012 down from 34,500 in 1996. Britain’s consume 5 billion litres of milk a year, 1.6 litres per person per week. 90% of herds are the famous black and white Holstein-Friesan (others Ayrshire, Jersey and Guernsey). The average size of UK dairy herd is 123