NFU PRESIDENT Tim Bennett has said he will name and shame those who justify milk price cuts on false grounds.

“I am angry with the antics of the trade in recent weeks. It is childish behaviour, it is pathetic, and it has to stop,” Mr Bennett said, referring to retailers and dairy companies blaming each other to justify their own price cuts.

“I can”t express my anger too strongly. It is easy to find out who is not telling the truth, and we are going to start exposing people who justify price cuts on false grounds.

“We have to stop this stupid game among milk buyers of blaming everyone else,” Mr Bennett stated at an NFU presidential briefing on Mon (Dec 6).

He also called for positive signals to farmers from beef and sheep buyers. “There is a strong need for long-term contracts in these sectors, particularly when it comes to beef. Waitrose and Marks & Spencer have some good long-term arrangements.

“But I”ve been disappointed about the general short-term attitude of retailers and processors. They just assume that farmers will continue to produce,” Mr Bennett said, adding that with CAP reform kicking in next year that will not necessarily be the case.

CHARTER

Mr Bennett said the NFU will continue to press for the establishment of a fair trade charter for the food supply chain.

The arrangement would offer all parties in the chain the chance to gain public recognition as fair traders, unless they were to break the rules of the charter, in which case they might be both exposed and expelled.

“This should be of interest to all parties in the supply chain. It”s an opportunity for us to set a standard for the whole world, and it should be just as interesting for the big retailers as for farmers,” Mr Bennett said.

Indeed, processor and retailer organisations have so far been positive to the idea. The NFU will use the period before the next General Election to bring the government on board to help get the fair trade charter started.

“We”ve only got a limited timespan to make this work. People in my industry will get fed up soon unless things change,” Mr Bennett said.