Farm leader warns of milk meltdown

17 October 2000

Farm leader warns of milk meltdown

By FWi staff

A FARM leader who is set to receive an OBE from the Queen for his services to agriculture has warned that the dairy industry is on the verge of meltdown.

Hugh Richards, president of the National Farmers Union Cymru-Wales, will receive the award at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday (18 October).

Speaking on the eve of the ceremony, however, Mr Richards warned that many of his fellow farmers could be forced out of business by low milk prices.

In a bid to help producers ride out the farming crisis, various dairy companies have recently pledged to pay farmers up to 2ppl more for their milk

Dairy Crest and Express Dairies, which both buy milk from Welsh farmers, have announced price rises of 2ppl and 1.4ppl respectively.

But only Scottish Milk, which buys milk predominantly from farmers north of the border, has announced a price rise more than 2ppl. It will pay 2.2ppl.

Mr Richards described price rises of less than 2ppl as an unmitigated disaster for a Welsh dairy industry, which is already on the verge of meltdown.

“Investment is down and borrowing is up and no industry can continue like that indefinitely,” he told reporters at the Welsh Dairy Event in Carmarthen.

“The very existence of Welsh dairy farming is threatened unless the rest of the dairy chain recognises its responsibilities.”

The Farmers Union of Wales warned that one-quarter of all Welsh milk producers will go out of business within a decade unless milk prices rise further.

Robert Voyle, chairman of the unions milk committee, said that the futures of one quarter of the 4000 producers in Wales were in jeopardy.

Also speaking at the Welsh Dairy Show, he said that producers needed at least 22ppl to provide a basic income and money re-investment in their farms.

The growing number of advertisements for farm sales and herd dispersals were symptoms of a deeply worrying trend, said Mr Voyle.

It was a national scandal that producers are paid 16ppl for working up to 100 hours a week while, consumers pay up to 73ppl, he added.

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