11 Aug Support for dairy farmers grows as campaign hits 3,500 signatures
As the crisis over prices paid to dairy farmers reaches another critical stage this week, evidence is growing of public support for the dairy industry, according to a leading South West law firm.
Over 3,500 people have now signed up to the campaign to encourage consumers to buy local. Support South West Dairy Farmers was launched earlier this year and a steadily growing number of people have been adding their support to it ever since.
The campaign is designed to encourage consumers to think about buying locally produced dairy products where possible, rather than simply taking another carton of milk off a national supermarket shelf.
Four pints of milk are available for just 89p in several major supermarket chains, and for £1 in many others. Some farmers have seen the price per litre they receive drop by around 12p in the last 12-18 months. With some now being paid less than 20p per litre. For many, profit margins have been progressively eroded and cost of production is greater than the milk price received.
And yet the research carried out earlier this year amongst 1,000 people across Devon and Cornwall found that 85% are prepared to pay more for local dairy products if it helps secure the long-term future of milk production in the region. 82% of people understand that farmers are not being paid enough for the milk they produce, and almost half (42%) are willing to pay at least 20% more for the dairy they purchase.
They can show their support by ‘signing up’ online at www.supportswdairyfarmers.co.uk, submitting a ‘milk moustache’ selfie and following the campaign on social media (Twitter: @SupportSWDairy).
A summit is being held this week by the farming unions, amid further cuts in the price per litre paid by some big processors to their farmer suppliers, underlining that the worsening situation for dairy farmers is now becoming critical.
Devon farmer David Vooght said: “The sharp, rapid decrease of the milk price has had a devastating effect on family farms. The situation is now frighteningly serious while the solution is remarkably simple – the public would be prepared to pay more for their milk and would hardly notice the increase in their overall food shopping bill. No other industry would accept a situation like this.”
Susie Murray, partner in Stephens Scown’s Rural Team, said: “With yet more price cuts announced by the large processors and bottled water on supermarket shelves costing more than milk, it’s clear to see why dairy farmers are calling for action. It’s time for retailers and processors to listen to the farming communities and start selling milk at a reasonable price with the benefits passed fully on to our dairy farmers.”
This Thursday the campaign will have a stand at the Okehampton Show where people can find out more and will also be at the Holsworthy & Stratton Show on 27 August.
The camapign is aiming to compile a list of outlets selling locally produced milk. Anyone with recommendations for this is encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.