Tuesday 10 July 2012

Milk Crisis - Dairy Farmers Protest in London

As over 2,000  British Dairy Farmers protest at Central Hall, Westminister at 1pm today 11th July 2012, Conservative Farm Minister Jim Paice has admitted admits he does not even know price of milk telling the BBC his wife "buys most of it".

The Farm Ministers comments were made on the eve of a major protest in London by smaller dairy farmers from across the Country against a further 4p a litre cut by many of the main milk processors' at the behest of the supermarket chains who sell 90% of the nation's Milk.

Some supermarkets sell non-organic milk for about 30p a pint, for larger bottle sizes. Single-pint bottles are offered at nearer 50p, with smaller shops often charging more, while Milk delivered to the doorstep costs consumers about 65p a pint.

Robert Wiseman, Britain's biggest fresh milk company, was taken over by European dairy giant Muller in January. In June, the company cut the price it pays for milk by 2p per litre. It plans to reduce it again by 1.7p in August.

Its standard litre price would then be 24.73p, which small dairy owners say is below cost price, it costs dairy farmers about 29p per litre to produce milk and are paid on average 25p a litre.

Dairy farmers are particularly disadvantaged as they sell a highly perishable product in a consolidated market, often with little choice to whom to sell;

The price per litre of milk more than doubles between leaving the farm gate and being sold as bottled milk or cheese by retailers;

The current system of contracts between farmers and processors falls short of the standards set out by the European Commission and gives little certainty and confidence to farmers;

Dairy processors are unlikely to make their contracts more transparent, voluntarily;


Farming unions have demanded a reversal, ahead of the protest today, when they will also meet Tory Farming Minister Mr Paice. Some dairy owners have said they are considering disrupting supplies.

Labour, shadow Farm Minister Mary Creagh said: "Farmers and consumers will be shocked that he doesn't know the price of milk when people are struggling to pay for their weekly shop and there's a crisis in the dairy industry.

"At the dairy summit, Jim Paice will call for farmers to get a decent price for their milk - the trouble is, he is so incompetent he hasn't a clue what it should be."

What is clear is that Conservtaive run DEFRA proposed Groceries Code Adjudicator, which it had hoped would regulate negotiations between farmers/growers and the large supermarkets, would not be in a position to resolve this crisis, because it has been stripped of it's powers to fine. 

Farmers faced with losing their farms are threatening direct action to highlight their plight, while Country Standard supports rural resistance to cuts, we hope the threat to pour milk down the drains is reconsidered and a more "consumer friendlily" protest is considered such as donating the milk to housing charities, local schools or rural foodbank.