MPs back farmers over falling milk prices
MPs have urged the government to do more to protect dairy farmers as the price of milk continues to fall.
MPs said farmers have been continuously forced out of business at the mercy of numerous international economic trends.
The Groceries Code Adjudicator needs to be granted extended power to cover issues regarding dairy suppliers, according to the latest report from the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.
The committee’s findings put forward that, due to the adjudicator’s current operational structure, huge numbers of dairy farmers are not covered in its scheme.
The report also proposed that the UK’s largest supermarkets be issued substantial fines if they are found to have mistreated dairy farmers.
Milk prices dropped in 2014 due to a combination of factors: increased UK market competition, as well as rising supply and falling demand from international bodies such as China and Russia.
The committee also found that over two billion litres of milk had not been exported to Russia in recent times as a result of import sanctions implemented in the wake of the continuing conflict in the Ukraine and due to Russian domestic policy.
The cost of producing milk has also hurt dairy farmers. According to BBC environment correspondent, Claire Marshall, dairy farmers are being paid just 20p a litre despite maintenance costs coming to 30p for each litre of milk produced.
Farmers have previously held protests and demonstrations demanding more pay for their produce.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) recently warned that the number of dairy farmers in England and Wales had halved in the last ten years. If the rate continues the UK could see less than 5,000 dairy farmers by 2025.
Set up in 2013 to investigate supplier’s complaints, the Groceries Code Adjudicator works to ensure that the most prolific UK supermarkets treat their milk suppliers in a manner which is ethically and legally correct.