21 April 1999
Publish milk competition report, urges Gill
By FWi staff
FARMERS leader Ben Gill has called for the Competition Commission report into the sale of raw milk in Britain to be published as soon as possible.
Mr Gill made plea in a letter to Agriculture Minister Nick Brown in which he pressed home the severe problems being experienced by dairy farmers.
The rapid publication of the report would enable hard-pressed producers to plan for the future, said Mr Gill, who is president of the National Farmers Union.
The development of efficient, international competitive dairy processing capacity was a key requirement for the long-term prosperity of the dairy industry, he said.
Mr Gill said the strength of Sterling was continuing to have a severe impact on the dairy sector, undermining the position of UK dairy products on export markets.
This has been compounded by the difficult trading conditions as a result of the economic crises in the Far East and Russia, he said.
Mr Gill said: “The need for a change to the selling system is crucial given the parlous state of dairy farm incomes.
“Milk prices are almost 30% lower than two years ago and many farmers are receiving milk prices that are well below the cost of production and are simply unsustainable.”
The drop in incomes could hamper investment in the industry at a time when it should be gearing up to compete on a freer global agricultural market, said Mr Gill.
“An uncompetitive UK dairy farming industry cannot be in the best interests of farmers, the processing sector or consumers.”