Tuesday, 17 November 2009

FUW dairy farmers' leader demand a better deal

Welsh dairy farmers are demanding better prices for their milk following a big improvement in world and EU markets for butter, milk powder, cheese and cream over the past few months.

"We understand that there is, inevitably, a delay between increasing world prices and those in the UK but this should be reflected in our milk cheques much sooner than it is," said the chairman of the Farmers' Union of Wales milk and dairy produce committee, Anglesey farmer Eifion Huws.

World butter and milk powder markets started rising in July, with the EU following about a month later, and even in the past month butter has increased by $600/t (20 per cent).

The rise is far greater for whole milk powder with New Zealand co-op Fonterra's monthly on-line auction price soaring by 88 per cent in just four months to $3,400/t. Meanwhile, cream prices have more than doubled since February to a record £1700/t, representing an income of 9.6p per litre (ppl).

"But the processors are crying wolf and making all kinds of excuses for not passing these increases down the chain to the producers," said Mr Huws.

"According to the latest Defra figures, the UK farm gate milk price this year ranged from 20.60ppl in May to 25.56ppl in January. Since then the world and EU prices have shot up but the UK farmgate price in September of 24.05ppl was still 2.50ppl lower than for September last year.

"The milk buyers are hiding behind all sorts of reasons for not passing on their profits to farmers yet they pay regular lip service in support of a long-term sustainable future for the sector.

"But faced with ever-increasing costs dairy farmers are increasingly leaving the industry - the number of dairy farms in Wales dropped by 670 between 2005 and 2008 and there are now barely 2,000 left. If processors don't play their part they may soon discover most of their loyal suppliers will have disappeared altogether."


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