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Dairy farmers face more uncertainty

07 July 1999
Dairy farmers face more uncertainty

DAIRY producers face an uncertain future after yesterdays government announcement not to push ahead with the break up of Milk Marque. …more…



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Dairy farmers face more uncertainty

07 July 1999
Dairy farmers face more uncertainty

DAIRY producers face an uncertain future after yesterdays government announcement not to push ahead with the break up of Milk Marque. …more…



todays news



 on GM crops – CLICK HERE

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Help a child and win a Fastrac
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Dairy farmers face more uncertainty

07 July 1999
Dairy farmers face more uncertainty

By Johann Tasker

DAIRY producers face an uncertain future after yesterdays government announcement not to push ahead with the break up of Milk Marque.

The government revealed yesterday (Tuesday) that it had rejected a Monopolies and Mergers Commission recommendation to disband the cooperative.

But the relief felt by many hard-pressed farmers turned to anger when it emerged that the MMC report had accused Milk Marque of artificially raising milk prices.

Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers Union, told Farmers Weekly last night that he found the suggestion deeply offensive.

“It is a statement which is quite demonstrably untrue,” he said.

Provisional milk price figures compiled earlier this year for 1998 show that British dairy farmers are the worst-paid in Europe.

The average net price paid to Milk Marque members during 1998/99 will be just 18.33ppl – but shoppers frequently pay more than 45ppl in the shops.

Overall, UK producers received an average of only 17.58ppl last year, according to the German analysts ZMP.

That compares with 17.96ppl in Ireland, 18.73ppl in France, 19.37ppl in Germany and 22.97ppl in Italy.

Milk Marque blames the demise on a combination of declining market prices, the strong Pound and weaker farmer selling, rather than sharp practice.

But Milk Marque officials at the Royal Show yesterday were remaining quiet, redirecting all media inquiries to their head office at Worcestershire.

Soon afterwards, directors left the National Agricultural Centre showground for a board meeting at Milk Marques headquarters in Worcester .

“The implication that the price of raw milk is too high has serious consequences for the farming industry,” said Paul Beswick, Milk Marques managing director.

Milk Marque is the countrys biggest farmer-owned co-operative, with 14,000 farmer members and almost a 50% share in the market for raw milk sales.

But ministers were perhaps unable to break it up at a time when the government is actively encouraging producers to become involved in collaborative marketing.

Such a move may only have been delayed, however, because the government has asked the Director-General of Fair Trading (DGFT) for more advice on the issue.

The DGFT will report back to the government before the end of the year with further recommendations on curbing the power of Milk Marque.

Tim Yeo, the shadow minister for agriculture, said the government had as yet done nothing to relieve the crisis in the dairy sector.

“It has merely called for a further review into Milk Marques sales procedures, delaying any possible benefits,” he said.

“The recommendations will only maintain the status quo and will offer no hope and no improvement to struggling dairy farmers.”

The Dairy Industry Federation (DIF), which represents the dairy processors, probably has the most to gain from yesterdays announcement.

Further falls in the milk price are likely and the government has ruled out any further expansion by Milk Marque into the dairy-processing industry.

Jim Begg, DIF director general, said he looked forward to a future industry which would invoke confidence and security for both farmers and processors.

“We believe that our dairy industry can now look forward to a bright future as a result of todays report,” he said.

Such a scenario is unlikely, however, believes Paul Tyler MP, the Liberal Democrat MP and food spokesman.

Ten dairy companies process 70% of all UK milk, and six companies process 90% of the countrys butter, he said.

“That is where the real cartel is, and where the true monopoly lies,” said Mr Tyler.

“Dairy farmers have been continually squeezed over the last 4-5 years and the MMCs report has done very little to address this.

“This report has done nothing at all to improve the return for the average dairy farmer.”

Mr Tyler blamed the previous Tory government, rather than the current Labour administration, for the predicament in which many farmers now find themselves.

Legislation introduced by the Conservatives had failed to secure a better bargaining position for smaller farmer-owned co-operatives, he said.

“We must be grateful that the Minister [Stephen Byers] did not accept the recommendation to break-up Milk Marque,” he said.

“The situation shows the total failure of Tory legislation to bring about a right balance between the farmer, retailer and processors let alone a better bargain for the consumer.”

    Read more on:
  • News

Dairy farmers face more uncertainty

07 July 1999
Dairy farmers face more uncertainty

By Johann Tasker

DAIRY producers have face an uncertain future after yesterdays government announcement not to push ahead with the break up of Milk Marque.

The government revealed yesterday (Tuesday) that it had rejected a Monopolies and Mergers Commission recommendation to disband the cooperative.

But the relief felt by many hard-pressed farmers turned to anger when it emerged that the MMC report had accused Milk Marque of artificially raising milk prices.

Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers Union, told Farmers Weekly last night that he found the suggestion deeply offensive.

“It is a statement which is quite demonstrably untrue,” he said.

Provisional milk price figures compiled earlier this year for 1998 show that British dairy farmers are the worst-paid in Europe.

The average net price paid to Milk Marque members during 1998/99 will be just 18.33ppl – but shoppers frequently pay more than 45ppl in the shops.

Overall, UK producers received an average of only 17.58ppl last year, according to the German analysts ZMP.

That compares with 17.96ppl in Ireland, 18.73ppl in France, 19.37ppl in Germany and 22.97ppl in Italy.

Milk Marque blames the demise on a combination of declining market prices, the strong Pound and weaker farmer selling, rather than sharp practice.

But Milk Marque officials at the Royal Show yesterday were remaining quiet, redirecting all media inquiries to their head office at Worcestershire.

Soon afterwards, directors left the National Agricultural Centre showground for a board meeting at Milk Marques headquarters in Worcester .

“The implication that the price of raw milk is too high has serious consequences for the farming industry,” said Paul Beswick, Milk Marques managing director.

Milk Marque is the countrys biggest farmer-owned co-operative, with 14,000 farmer members and almost a 50% share in the market for raw milk sales.

But ministers were perhaps unable to break it up at a time when the government is actively encouraging producers to become involved in collaborative marketing.

Such a move may only have been delayed, however, because the government has asked the Director-General of Fair Trading (DGFT) for more advice on the issue.

The DGFT will report back to the government before the end of the year with further recommendations on curbing the power of Milk Marque.

Tim Yeo, the shadow minister for agriculture, said the government had as yet done nothing to relieve the crisis in the dairy sector.

“It has merely called for a further review into Milk Marques sales procedures, delaying any possible benefits,” he said.

“The recommendations will only maintain the status quo and will offer no hope and no improvement to struggling dairy farmers.”

The Dairy Industry Federation (DIF), which represents the dairy processors, probably has the most to gain from yesterdays announcement.

Further falls in the milk price are likely and the government has ruled out any further expansion by Milk Marque into the dairy-processing industry.

Jim Begg, DIF director general, said he looked forward to a future industry which would invoke confidence and security for both farmers and processors.

“We believe that our dairy industry can now look forward to a bright future as a result of todays report,” he said.

Such a scenario is unlikely, however, believes Paul Tyler MP, the Liberal Democrat MP and food spokesman.

Ten dairy companies process 70% of all UK milk, and six companies process 90% of the countrys butter, he said.

“That is where the real cartel is, and where the true monopoly lies,” said Mr Tyler.

“Dairy farmers have been continually squeezed over the last 4-5 years and the MMCs report has done very little to address this.

“This report has done nothing at all to improve the return for the average dairy farmer.”

Mr Tyler blamed the previous Tory government, rather than the current Labour administration, for the predicament in which many farmers now find themselves.

Legislation introduced by the Conservatives had failed to secure a better bargaining position for smaller farmer-owned co-operatives, he said.

“We must be grateful that the Minister [Stephen Byers] did not accept the recommendation to break-up Milk Marque,” he said.

“The situation shows the total failure of Tory legislation to bring about a right balance between the farmer, retailer and processors let alone a better bargain for the consumer.”

    Read more on:
  • News
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