This could leave the UK more reliant on imports of milk produced abroad to poorer welfare standards, undermining the vital role of dairy farmers in managing Britain’s much loved pastoral landscapes.
Time for action
WSPA and the CPRE are calling on consumers, milk processors and the government to take urgent action to protect the future of British dairy farming.
Together we are calling for:
• Consumers to only buy from retailers who have taken steps to ensure the milk they sell comes from dairy farmers who are paid a fair price. Currently, ASDA, Morrisons, and TheCo-Op do not have such contracts in place.
• Milk processors and dairies (including Arla, Dairy Crest and Robert Wiseman Dairies) to commit to paying fair prices for milk.
• The Government to ensure that the Groceries Code Adjudicator has the necessary powers to investigate contracts between farmers, retailers and processors to ensure farmers are being treated fairly.
Intensification not the answer
WSPA is concerned farmers may feel pushed into intensifying in order to survive. Instead, WSPA is urging farmers to follow the model set out in our recent report, Weighing up the Economics of Dairy Farming which encourages farmers to cut input costs by investing in grass fed, more robust cows.
Leading businesswoman and WSPA supporter Deborah Meaden has also voiced her concerns, and is throwing her weight behind WSPA and the CPRE.
Deborah said: “I have been shocked by the recent unrest in the UK milk market – our UK dairy supply chain is currently weighted towards a situation where supermarkets and processors hold too much of the bargaining power. A fundamental rule of business is to be able to sell your product for more than it costs to make. Farmers need to be allowed to run a truly sustainable business model, otherwise we risk losing them from the industry and with them, cows in fields and a countryside that people recognise.”