The coalition of farming groups which has campaigned for fairer milk prices has vowed to ramp up pressure on processors and retailers who do not pay enough for milk.
The coalition’s SOS dairy campaign has successfully forced milk processors to reverse proposed cuts of up to 2p/l by carrying out protests and winning the support of the public. The cuts were due to be introduced on 1 August but the milk buyers backed down last week.
During a meeting at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, on 31 July, coalition members issued a warning that other buyers would be put into the spotlight to commit to paying a milk price that at least covered production costs.
Speaking after the meeting, NFU President Peter Kendall said there had been some great successes so far but the battle for a fair milk price was far from over and he outlined the next steps for the coalition to achieve.
Coalition Next Steps
* Developing and consolidating terms agreed on the contractual code of best practice between farmers and processors
* Increasing pressure on buyers that still are not paying prices above costs of production
* Checking that prices promised by the supply chain are make their way back to farmers
* Obtaining guarantees that payments for milk are not being balanced against payments for other dairy products such as cheese
He also congratulated all of the members of the group.
“Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to farmers and the general public for the part they have played in supporting this work and for helping the coalition to achieve the impact it has, and in such a short time,” said Mr Kendall.
“This is a unique coalition and the success we have seen to date in reversing those planned price cuts for 1 August is a sign of real strength and solidarity.
“However, there is still a long way to go and we need to build on the back of the successes from the past few weeks. We will be working hard to complete the contractual code of best practice as soon as possible and then we need to ensure those key elements are adopted.
“And rest assured, we will continue to name and shame retailers and other buyers of milk that do not pay their dairy farmers a price for milk that meets the cost of production,” Mr Kendall said.
Farmers For Action chairman David Handley added: “FFA will continue putting pressure on the big four retailers to demonstrate they are doing all they can to ensure all dairy farmer suppliers are receiving a sustainable milk price.
“We will also be putting the spotlight on those retailers, including Iceland, Farm Foods and other food businesses which have refused to meet minimum costs of production for liquid milk.”
The Women’s Institute also stated its support.
Ruth Bond, chair of the WI, said: “We are united with the coalition of farming organisations in calling for a fair price to British dairy farmers and we are issuing a challenge to the milk processors to visibly demonstrate how money is passing down the chain so that dairy farmers benefit from the recent price commitments of some retailers.
“We will be mobilising our membership to put pressure on retailers and processors to ensure a fair price is paid to, and received by, British dairy farmers. The movement we have seen in recent weeks is very welcome but the problems with the supply chain are a very long way from being solved.”
Coalition members include: NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, Royal Associaiton of British dairy farmers, Womens Food and Farming Union, Tenant Farmers Association and FFA