22 January 1999

Milk price rise warning

THE future of many dairy farmers, especially those in Wales and the West Country, hangs in the balance unless milk prices increase and the outcome of the current Monopolies and Mergers Commission inquiry is favourable to Milk Marque, then many producers will go out of business, the NFU warns.

Hugh Richards, former chairman of the NFU milk committee, told union council in London last week that milk prices had now reached the stage where they were unsustainable.

And the Milk Marque selling system would remain under a cloud until the already delayed Monopolies and Mergers Commission report was finally published.

Unless a more realistic price was paid, a large number of small producers would go out of business and that would have a catastrophic effect on life in rural areas, Mr Richards said.

Milk committee chairman Michael Lambert agreed there was real concern about the future, especially in Wales and the West Country. The union was talking to the MPs for those areas pointing out that if the MMC report was unfavourable for Milk Marque then many farmers would go out of business.

"The one thing we fear is that the MMC will want to break Milk Marque up," Mr Lambert said.