East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight is concerned that hundreds of dairy farmers could be forced out of business by milk price cuts – as well as rising feed costs – which could lead to milk being imported from overseas in large quantities.
Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has said the dairy farmers were targeting the three supermarket chains Asda, Morrisons and the Co-operative as they had the “most punitive and least sustainable” contracts.
The price cuts will not affect farmers supplying Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer or Waitrose as they are paid directly by the supermarkets.
The Farmers’ union NFU has said the price cuts would impact on 25% of the milk market volume.
Many farmers are saying that the three supermarkets must pay more for milk – “but it has to come out of their profit and not from the consumers”.
One farmer said: “The supermarkets margins are getting bigger and our margins are getting less and it has to stop.”
In the dairy industry, the processors set the price they pay farmers for their milk and four leading dairy processors recently announced the latest cuts – applied from 1 August.
The farmers’ cause is being backed by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who urged the public to boycott some supermarkets that used milk as “a loss leader”.
Farming Minister Jim Paice said that, while government “cannot and should not” set prices, he would try to “get all levels of the supply chain to make the real changes needed to guarantee the industry’s long-term future”.
Mr Knight said: “The NFU has revealed an average farmer, with about 150 to 200 cows, would lose about £37,000 in revenue from the combined effect of previous cuts in May/June and the new cuts in August”
He added:.”We must do more to support our farmers.”
Click below to hear Greg comment.
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