Dairy farmers in Wales are quitting the industry in droves over poor deals on milk prices.
A report by the Welsh Assembly’s rural development sub committee said low returns had put pressure on dairy farmers, forcing a third of them to leave the industry in the last five years.
The report said it was essential a supermarket ombudsman was introduced to achieve a fair price for remaining producers and secure the industry’s future.
Alun Davies, sub committee chairman, said the decline was “alarming”.
“[The chief reason for the decline] appears to be the disparity in payments to farmers or their produce compared to the prices charged by retailers,” he said.
“We urge the Welsh government to put pressure on the UK government to establish a UK ombudsman to protect producers’ interests.”
According to the report, the number of milk producers in Wales fell from 2845 to 2149 over five years to 2008.
Welsh dairy farmers needed a dedicated marketing body like that used for Welsh lamb and beef to help boost dairy income or face further falls in producer numbers, it added.
The sub committee also said government bodies should increase the use of Welsh dairy products, building on calls from last year’s Winter Fair for the army to source more meat from domestic farms.
Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales) said while the idea of a dedicated milk promotion campaign may appeal to producers, securing funding for a campaign could be a major hurdle.