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Dairy groups demand a higher price for milk.

Byline: Karen Dent

GROUPS representing Britain's dairy farmers are teaming up to demand that retailers and the food industry ensures the future security of the UK's milk supply.

In a joint letter to the major supermarkets, discounters and main companies in the food service sector, they are calling for action to boost confidence among dairy farmers to stem the tide of people leaving the industry.

It comes as dairy farmers once again find themselves in a position often being paid less for their milk than it costs to produce.

The industry-wide group is made up of the NFU, Farmers for Action, Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, Dairy Farmers of Scotland, NFUS, NFU Cymru and the Farmers' Union of Wales.

It says it is essential for everyone in the supply chain to make a fair profit and is calling for three commitments from the key players in the sector.

The letter says: "If you want to guarantee a supply of quality British milk, cheese and dairy products you must take steps to secure it." The group wants a guaranteed commitment that retailers and the food service industry will source British dairy products. Own-label supermarket dairy products should carry the Red Tractor logo to show they are made using British milk. Finally, it wants to ensure a stable milk price for producers by putting transparent pricing mechanisms in place.

Gwyn Jones, chairman of the NFU dairy board, said: "As British milk supply continues to fall, consumers are increasingly denied the opportunity of choice they deserve to purchase British dairy products; products which are produced to the highest welfare and environmental standards in the world.

"Consumers are paying a fair price for British dairy products but that money is not distributed fairly down the supply chain. The difference between profit and loss for dairy farmers in this country is a small fraction of the overall margin on milk and dairy products, which could easily be afforded." Farmers for Action said that retailers and buyers would be left in no doubt that the dairy industry would no longer tolerate low prices and the imbalance of profits in the food chain.

And RABDF chairman, Lyndon Edwards, added: "British dairy farmers must receive a fair and sustainable price for their milk immediately, otherwise consumers will not have the option to buy fresh British milk in future."

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 4, 2009
Words:410
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