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UK farmers: Dairy industry in crisis

Staff writer |
The UK’s dairy industry is in a desperate state as farmers are being paid less for milk than the cost it takes to produce.

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Giving evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra), the chairman of Farmers For Action, David Handley, said that 400 milk producers have quit the business so far this year, compared with 200 over the whole of last year. He added that the situation was so serious that Farmers For Action had passed three individual dairy producers on to the Samaritans.

George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association, commented: "This is a horrendous time... We are losing family farming. We have valleys which have had 20 dairy farmers where we have none any more."

Rob Harrison, chairman of the National Farmers' Union Dairy Board said: "We need to have a transparent trading relationship that means farmers are treated equitably and fairly."

The big milk-buyers, including Arla, Dairy Crest, Muller and First Milk, mainly blame the cut in the money they pay farmers on global commodity prices. However, Mr Handley disputed claims that the price cuts were down to global markets when “85% of our milk never leaves these shores."

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