Rural chiefs have welcomed acknowledgement from the UK farming ministers that urgent action is needed to address the failures in the supply chain.
Ministers, who met yesterday (Monday) to discuss the current price crisis, said farmers across the board were being affected, not just those in dairy.
They agreed a series of actions which retailers and the food service sector have been asked to commit to ‘urgently’.
These include; clearer country of origin labelling; clarity on sourcing policies; better, more consistent promotion of British food and, from the government, delivery of its public procurement food policy.
There was recognition that some of the issues facing farmers could only be tackled at EU level and there was agreement that the farm ministers would agree to present a united position representing all UK farmers at the emergency meeting in Brussels on September 7.
The meeting was also attended by the presidents of the NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru and Ulster Farmers Union.
In a statement, the four UK farming union presidents said: “We cannot allow the meltdown in the farming industry to continue. The Secretary of State and the devolved agricultural ministers have today acknowledged the threats facing the farming industry and the need for urgent action.
“Our farming members now expect to see these words followed up with visible, tangible actions. The ministers should be in no doubt that the time for talking is now over.”
The UK farming union presidents once again stressed the importance of timely BPS payments. Ministers all committed to do what they could to ensure this happens.
“In the immediate short term, we look to the retailers and food service companies to ensure they are treating their farming suppliers fairly,” the statement added.
UK Environment Secretary Liz Truss and Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said the crisis was a ‘global issue’ and urged the European Commission to do more.
Dairy UK chief executive Dr Judith Bryans, who was also at the meeting, said both short and long term measures could help relieve some of the pressure on producers, including raising the intervention price in Europe.
She added: “In the long term, we need a collaborative approach throughout the supply chain to develop a toolbox to handle the impact of volatility which, as we know, is now an inherent part of the milk market.”