The chief executives of all the major supermarkets in the UK have been asked to reveal how much they pay farmers for milk and meat and details of their procurement policy.
The call from rural leaders follows the latest round of price cuts by three major milk processors – Arla, First Milk and Dairy Crest – and the downturn in the price of finished lambs.
Union chiefs met yesterday (Monday) to assess the crisis which is crippling the dairy and livestock sectors.
They warned that if action was not taken soon, more farmers would be forced out of business.
NFU president Meurig Raymond said supermarkets would struggle to source British produce, leading to an increasing reliance on imports.
“Our self-sufficiency has already fallen down to 62 per cent,” he said.
Morrisons was the first supermarket to meet with farm leaders today (Tuesday).
The NFU tweeted news that it would launch a new milk brand where 10ppl of the retail price would go directly to farmers.
Morrisons announce ’Milk for Farmers’ 10p extra ’brand’ - reports and more on this as we get it— NationalFarmersUnion (@NFUtweets)
Morrisons announce 'Milk for Farmers' 10p extra 'brand' - reports and more on this as we get it— NationalFarmersUnion (@NFUtweets) August 11, 2015
The new brand ’Morrisons Milk for Farmers will go into all stores this autumn and is aimed at shoppers who want to support British dairy farmers.
Morrisons announce "Milk for Farmers" 10p extra. All extra cash goes back to farmers supplying Morrisons through Arla. Up to shoppers now— David Gregory-Kumar (@DrDavidGK)
Morrisons announce "Milk for Farmers" 10p extra. All extra cash goes back to farmers supplying Morrisons through Arla. Up to shoppers now— David Gregory-Kumar (@DrDavidGK) August 11, 2015
Mr Raymond had previously called for the chain to develop ’transparent pricing mechanisms, and long term relationships with their suppliers, that show support to the British dairy sector’.
Unrest in the farming sector sparked a wave of protests at stores all over the country.
Welsh Liberal Democrat MP, Mark Williams, who called for supermarkets in Wales to be more transparent about their sourcing and pricing policies, said action was needed soon to ensure retailers had a secure supply for the future.
“The prices currently being paid to farmers for their dairy products and meat is simply untenable and very much a concern when considering the future of the agricultural sector,” said Mr Williams.
“With lambs down £25-£30 per head on the year and the milk price plunging from 34p per litre in early 2014 to barely 20p we must do all we can to protect the industry’s future.”
Union bosses said they wanted to see action at a ministerial and European level and would be pushing for a meeting within days.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said he welcomed a joint ministerial meeting on the issue.
He added: “I would also call on buyers to be more transparent about the prices they are paying dairy farmers – in January Sainsbury’s led by example by going public with their prices. It was refreshing to see retailers competing over the fairest deal for farmers rather than who can devalue milk the most, and we desperately need that sort of commitment again.”