Two dairy business specialists have written an open letter to the Prime Minister which highlights the financial and psychological pressures facing British dairy farmers.
Norman Buxton, chairman of Datag Farm Management Systems and David Hughes of David Hughes Agricultural Consultancy Ltd have written to Tony Blair hoping that he will open a constructive debate on the future of UK milk suppliers.
Mr Buxton and Mr Hughes decided to write after their day-to-day involvement in providing many family farms with IT and consultancy support brought home to them the reality of a situation which showed that many farms are simply running out of cash at an alarming rate.
“With farm gate milk prices 30% lower than ten years ago and spiraling production costs and increasing red tape, the situation can only get worse,” said Mr Buxton.
“Family run dairy farms will be replaced by a small number of industrial milk factories that would contribute nothing to our countryside, flying in the face of government environmental policy.”
Mr Buxton and Mr Hughes will be attending the Dairy Event (20/21 Sept), where they will meet with the Country Land and Business Association to decide how to best communicate the issues raised in the letter to a wider audience.
Mr Hughes hopes the message will be heard by consumers, explaining: “Farmer-led protests to the milk processors and retailers have achieved little. The only voice that the retailers choose to hear is that of their customers.
“If we wish to retain our family-run dairy farms with all that they bring to our countryside, consumers and government need to speak out loud, speak out clear and speak out now.”
The open letter, which is to be posted from the Dairy Event, has been undersigned by many similarly concerned people including:
• Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester
• Rt Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop of Stockport
• The Lord Plumb of Coleshill DL
• Sir Nicholas Winterton MP (Macclesfield)
• Lady Ann Winterton MP (Congleton)
• Gwyneth Dunwoody MP (Crewe & Nantwich)
• David Warrington, Managing Director, NWF Agriculture Ltd
• Richard Barnett, Howard Worth and Co, Farming Accountants
• Keith Ineson M.Th.,A.C.I.I., Agricultural Chaplain
• Neil Howie MRCVS, Nantwich Veterinary Group
• John Hinson FRICS, FAAV, Hinson Parry, Chartered Surveyor
• Henry Hutsby, LLB, Hutsby Mees, Solicitors
• Nick Johns BSc, Director HST Feeds Ltd
• County Councillor Steve Wilkinson, Vice Chairman, Cheshire County Council
• Graham Martyn, FRICS, FAAV, Wright Manley, Auctioneers and Estate Agents
• Peter Russell, ACIB, Agricultural Banking Manager, Staffordshire
• Tony Rimmer, MRICS, FAAV, Carver Knowles, Chartered Surveyors