The government must act to bring in fairer milk contracts and end the “disgustingly low prices” paid to dairy farmers, according to the NFU.
NFU president Peter Kendall told visitors to the Devon County show that it was “disgraceful” the UK languished 22nd in the EU milk price league table, with farmers receiving 3p/litre below the EU average.
“We’ve got a global price that’s high for milk, and our farmers aren’t getting the benefit of it. It’s a bloody outrage. The market isn’t working fairly. With our so-called liquid premium we can’t sit so far adrift of global prices.”
Mr Kendall urged the government to embrace the High Level Dairy Group’s recommendations to stabilise the EU dairy sector.
Proposals included written contracts, collective bargaining by producers, and greater transparency in the supply chain.
Although British farmers already had contracts with processors, they were inflexible and unfair, tying producers into price changes without prior consent, he said.
As part of its campaign, ‘It’s time to back our dairy farmers’, the NFU was calling on producers to write to their MPs and milk buyers to request the introduction of fairer contracts.
“Unless action is taken, milk production will continue to fall, as will investment in our dairy farms,” said Devon NFU chairman David Horton.
“We’re getting close to the last straw for many dairy farmers; many are making a loss on every litre they produce. No one is going to stay in business for long on that basis. It’s financial suicide.
“Those further up the supply chain have to realise that they can’t make their enormous profits at the expense of us producers. The future of our dairy industry is in their hands.”