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Support Your UK Dairy Farmers
August 17, 2015

Cheese and butter will be clearly labelled and displayed in shops as “British” to make it easier for customers to support the UK’s struggling dairy farmers, under plans to be outlined week.

Elizabeth Truss, the Environment Secretary, wants to help the dairy industry by encouraging more consumers to buy British products, including cheddar, craft cheeses, butter, and yogurt.

Writing in The Telegraph, she warns that many “hard-working British farmers” who produce “top quality milk” are facing a “very serious situation” as a result of falling global prices.

But farmers’ survival is essential for preserving the rural landscape and supporting countryside communities, as well as helping the economy to grow, she says.

Ms Truss will host a summit on Monday with farmers’ leaders and her ministerial counterparts from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to address the crisis in dairy farming.

There are hopes that the meeting will reach a substantial agreement across the four nations of the UK on how to help farmers.

Measures could include labelling dairy products as “British” in all major shops and displaying items more clearly on supermarket shelves.

The summit comes after supermarkets responded to growing pressure and promised to pay farmers more for the milk they receive.

Farmers staged a protest last week by driving cows through a branch of Asda in Stafford, demanding that milk should not be cheaper than a bottle of water.

In her article, Ms Truss says Monday’s meeting will seek “to agree what other measures we can introduce or accelerate” to help the dairy industry.

“A number of supermarkets have made commitments to suppliers to ensure that they will continue to have a secure supply of high quality milk,” she says. “It should also be made as easy as possible for consumers to know when they are buying British cheese and butter.”

The government has already changed its own procurement rules to ensure that state schools, hospitals and departments can buy more “seasonal and local produce”, she says. But there is a growing appetite for buying British products abroad and shoppers in the UK should also be encouraged to spend their money on home-grown food.

Ms Truss warns that Britain has a “dairy deficit”, with less than half of the butter eaten in the UK and only one third of the cheese coming from British milk. The UK imports 40,000 tonnes of cheddar each year, “though you could hardly think of a more British product”.

The British brand is synonymous everywhere with the best quality, safety, traceability and animal welfare. We need to make sure that our producers are able to meet the challenges they face so that they can capitalise on the growing interest in food provenance, standards and safety to capture more of the market at home and abroad.”

Last week, supermarkets Aldi, Lidl and Morrisons made new commitments to pay a minimum level for their milk, following a similar move by Asda. Morrisons committed to pay at least 26 pence per litre, while Aldi and Lidl moved to 28p, matching the level set by Asda.

Farmers say they have been receiving less than 24p for milk that ends up on these supermarket shelves – well below break-even prices estimated at between 28 and 30p. Some supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer have deals in place to pay at least 30p per litre.

 

Source – The Telegraph


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