2 March 2000
Dairy tenants urge fairer deal

By FWi staff

THE Tenant Farmers Association has unveiled a five-point plan, which it says would give dairy farmers a fairer deal.

The association is calling for immediate assistance to help farmers hit by the dramatic downturn in prices.

With milk prices now below costs of production, the dairy sector is in an “unsustainable position” and must be turned around, it says.

TFA chief executive George Dunn said: “The price received by dairy farmers for their milk has fallen by nearly 30% in three years and is now below average cost of production.

“Consumers are paying over three times as much in the shops, and the profit in the middle is being creamed off by intermediaries.”

A statutory code of practice covering supermarkets dealings with suppliers is essential, says the TFA.

And it calls for a promise there will be no further interference from Competition Authorities in producer co-operatives.

An early retirement scheme focused on tenants, state help to aid restructuring and rent reductions are all needed as well, it claims.

“The strong message I have received is that traditional dairy tenants are having to pack up or are being forced to quit by current circumstances,” said Mr Dunn.

“Whilst for some it is already too late, for those remaining, action is long overdue.”

Mr Dunns comments come as the National Farmers Union undertakes a two-week tour to highlight the plight of the industry.

A national milk roadshow will travel the country, stopping at major cities along the way.

It will finish in London on 15 March where farmers will lobby MPs.