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The case for a milk price that reflects the cost of production

PUBLISHED: 15:42 30 September 2015 | UPDATED: 15:42 30 September 2015

Rebecca Cox

Rebecca Cox

Archant

How much are you prepared to pay for your daily pinta? Rebecca Cox, Chairman of Dorset Young Farmers, argues the case for a price that reflects the true cost of producing milk in this country

Dorset Young Farmers have been amongst the many farmers you may well have seen recently on the news or social media, protesting for a fair price for milk. Young Farmers across the country have been a force behind the huge ‘Milk Trolley Challenge’ which went viral in just a couple of days and quickly sparked the attention of the national media. Farmers’ took to the supermarkets and purchased all of the store’s milk, and then gave it away outside to the general public to raise awareness of the grave state that the industry is currently in. Very quickly videos and photos took over Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds, and the country started to take notice.

So what are the facts behind the protest? It costs a farmer, on average, between 30-32 pence to produce a litre of milk and yet some are receiving as little as 17 or 18 pence per litre, with the current average at only 23.66 pence per litre. With farmers making a loss on every litre of milk that they produce, they are currently in an unsustainable situation and one which shows little sign of improving in the near future. On average during the past year, eight dairy farms have closed down each week in Britain.

Part of this problem is due to supermarkets which have devalued the product in the eyes of the public, in order to get customers through their doors. It is essential that we help consumers understand that dairy products are expensive to produce and aren’t compatible with a discount mentality. Retailers can’t keep coming up with new requirements for animal welfare, sustainability and quality improvements, and then reduce the price of our products. The main issue here is that the current milk price does not cover our costs.

In addition to this dairy farmers are competing in a global market place and supply is exceeding demand. At the end of March the European Union lifted its quotas on the amount of milk farmers could produce; this along with a Russian ban on imports and a collapse in demand from China for dairy products have also played their part in this critical situation.

Britain has some of the highest standards for food hygiene and animal welfare and the milk that is produced in this country is something that we should all be proud of. Arla, a co-operative of 13,500 dairy farmers, has recently launched a ‘Farmer-owned’ marque which will be displayed on products. This will allow consumers to easily identify and trust that when they buy Arla products they are buying something that is responsibly sourced from a farmer-owned business, where all the profits go back to the owners.

As young farmers we are proud of our past and passionate about the future and we want to have an industry to pass down through generations to come. Please support us by buying British produce. 



About Rebecca Cox

Rebecca is from a long established farming family, and works on their dairy farm near Dorchester. A member of Young Farmers’ for over 10 years, she was a founding member of Puddletown YFC. More at dorsetyfc.org.uk.



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