As you may have seen in the news recently, dairy farmers are planning to protest today in London about the price they are paid for their milk. This is a reaction to the recent price cuts by 4 major milk processors of up to 2p/l in the price the farmers receive for their product. This might not sound much but consider an average dairy farm with 120 cows each producing 10,000 litres of milk a year....
Unbelievably farmers don't have written contracts with agreed prices in for their product as you would expect, so there is not a lot they can do when the price is dropped - they can't go on strike and stop production because cows produce milk for about 300 out of 365 days a year and need milking daily and they can't turn round and offer their product to someone else at short notice. (This is common to other farmers too who supply supermarkets/processors with fruit and veg; no set written contracts with prices and conditions changing at will - hence the call for a grocery adjudicator)
Currently the cost of milk production is about 30p/litre but the price farmers are currently getting paid is around 25p litre. What do you pay? Do you know how much a litre of milk is? Less that you would pay for some bottled water. Its doesn't take a mathematician to realise that a business cannot sustain this sort of loss making operation and this latest price cut will only accelerate the number of farmers leaving the dairy industry.
So what? This decline in our dairy industry means that 2 things could happen - we may have to start importing fresh milk; bearing in mind that Britain has gold plated welfare and food protection standards imported milk may not produced to the same standard and how will it keep as long? It may cost more as it has to be tankered across the Channel... Secondly those farmers choosing to stay in milking will be forced down an ever more intensive industrial-scale farming system in an attempt to keep milk production costs below falling prices (although the price to the consumer doesn't seem to fall).
Is that what we want? Would you like to live next to a super dairy with 800 cows kept indoors?
So if you think this is an important issue please take a minute to sign the e-petition asking that farmers be paid a fair price for their milk. i.e. one that covers production costs.