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Ministers and farm chiefs to begin dairy crisis talks

Four of the large UK retailers have made moves to improve the prices paid to dairy farmers in the last few days


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UK farming ministers are to hold talks with union leaders later today
UK farming ministers are to hold talks with union leaders later today

UK farming ministers are to hold talks with union leaders later today to discuss how they will tackle the ongoing crisis in the dairy industry.

 

Environment Secretary Liz Truss said she wanted leaders to ’examine further measures’ in advance of the emergency EU Agriculture Council meeting on September 7.

 

It comes as Aldi, Lidl and Asda announced they would pay 28p per litre for their milk. Morrisons confirmed it will pay 26p per litre from later this month.

 

Morrisons has also launched a Milk for Farmers cheddar cheese, which will cost consumers an extra 34p a pack, with 10p per litre going back into the farm supply base.

 

This will be in addition to its new brand of premium milk announced last week, which will see 10p per litre going to farmers.

 

Farm leaders welcomed the moves by retailers but called for more to be done.

 

In a joint statement the NFU, TFA and FFA said: “After our conversations today we are pleased that Morrisons has recognised the need to support the dairy sector at this difficult time.

 

"Morrisons must continue conversations with its processors on a regular basis. And it is absolutely vital that the extra money goes back to British farmers - we cannot emphasise this enough."

 

It follows UK-wide efforts by farm lobby organisations to push the issue of self-sufficiency for UK food up the political agenda.

 

The NFU said margin pressure as a result of aggressive pricing was forcing farmers out of business and as things stand the UK only has the capacity to be self-sufficient in food for just over eight months of the year.

 

The Ulster Farmers Union said part of this campaign will be to convince retailers than contracts based on a fair price for farmers, such as the liquid milk model, will be ‘good for the agricultural industry, good for retailers, and good for consumers’.

 

Ahead of the Ministers’ meeting in London this afternoon, Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead called for an ‘urgent coordinated response’, including a UK-wide meeting with all major retail and food service providers.

 

Mr Lochhead said: “We are all very much aware of the issues currently facing farming ranging from the impact of the weather which has been particularly challenging in parts of northern Scotland to falling prices.

 

"Given that action will be required at Scottish, UK and European level, and given that these issues affect farmers in all our countries, a coordinated response is essential to give all our farmers support in their hour of need.”

 

NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker added: “We would welcome the opportunity to meet retailers and the food service sector in private. That would provide scope for a frank discussion on the impact that sourcing and pricing policies can have on primary producers and what is needed to keep family farms in business.”


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