A DELEGATION of Pembrokeshire dairy farmers has urged DEFRA minister Lord Whitty to have the courage to intervene in the marketplace to ensure it works fairly for all.

Stephen James, NFU Cymru county branch chairman, presented a portfolio containing a dozen case studies of farmers, many with young families, who had quit dairying in the last year.

“Labour, fuel and fertiliser costs have all increased markedly, and independent reports suggest that this has added approximately 1.5p to the cost of producing a litre of milk,” Mr James said.

“Yet farmers have seen downward pressure on the price they receive.”

Alan Pritchard of Letterston itemised factors, like lower milk production and near record prices for dairy products that he claimed should have generated an increase in farm gate milk returns if the supply chain was working properly.

“We need greater transparency throughout, and if the retailers are not prepared to work with us to achieve that aim then we expect the Government to intervene,” insisted Mr Pritchard.

Mansel Raymond, chairman of the union‘s Welsh milk board, complained that the Office of Fair Trading was ever ready to scrutinise efforts by producers and their co-operatives to collaborate and increase in size, yet a totally different attitude was taken when looking at the power of major retailers had over food prices.