Friday's Letters: Milk farmers forced into battle for survival by Asda price

YOUR letter writer Nita Fenton (Yorkshire Post, December 23) says shame on supermarkets for selling a litre of milk for less than a bottle of water.

Shame is perhaps less of a driver than maximum profits to large corporate companies.

In July, Asda prompted a savage retail milk price war, by slashing the price of a standard four pint bottle of milk to 1.25 where it has remained at that low price ever since.

The imbalance of power in the milk supply chain results in any loss on retail promotions invariably landing at the feet of the producer. Promotions of this kind also devalue milk, which is a highly nutritious and valuable staple food.

As other milk buyers cannot compete on price with large companies, it is largest retailers who hold the key to keeping the UK dairy industry sustainable which they are failing to do as their much publicised dedicated retailer contracts are only held by a very small percentage of farms, leaving the rest to face ongoing prices below cost of production.

The farmers who were compelled to protest recently outside supermarkets on bitterly cold nights were supporting Farmers for Action, led by dairy farmer David Handley.

FFA have only come to the fore when all negotiation by others have failed to shame the retailers and the several FFA protests throughout the country at Tesco and Asda distribution depots have been peaceful; indeed protesters have complied fully with requests from police.

The result of daring to challenge the mighty Asda by peaceful protest has led to the issue of an injunction against David Handley and FFA by the Leeds-based company who are the second biggest retailer in the UK and are now owned by Walmart, the largest company in the world.

Their intention is to prevent future protests by any farmers unless they are carried out on strict terms laid out by Asda.

Ironically Asda was formed by a group of Yorkshire farmers in 1965, and given the size and financial means of today's Asda compared to that of FFA, this modern day David and Goliath situation has also effectively silenced many other supporters of UK dairy farming.

Supermarkets do not want consumers to pay a realistic price for milk even if consumers want to do so, as this is not in the best commercial interest of retailers.

Despite their claims of support for dairy farmers, maximum short-term gains are far more of a concern to large profit-driven retailers than the long-term future of British dairy farmers or the long-term interests of consumers.

Purse power and a refusal to buy cheap milk from any source may now be the only answer, otherwise in the end the consumer will be the loser, not retailers who will seek their profits elsewhere.

From: Kathleen Calvert, Paythroen, Clitheroe, Lancashire.

Taxi signs key to cutting sex attack risks

From: Robert Carlton, Athol Crescent, Ovenden, Halifax, West Yorkshire.

AFTER watching a programme about the number of rapes committed by people posing as private hire taxi drivers, I can't stress enough the importance of the need for change.

I wrote to my local council (Halifax) in 2006 expressing my concern that the public were confused because the vehicles were not identifiable enough.

Since 2006, the council has improved the size and visibility of signs on such vehicles, which now also include the private hire vehicle's licence number on door signs to allow easy identification.

Whilst this has improved the situation in Halifax, I would like to see this extended to the rest of Yorkshire.

I would like to see all private hire vehicles issued with a clearly visible roof sign.

Women being raped in this way is not a crime that's confined to London, it has happened in Halifax and other parts of Yorkshire.

While I do acknowledge that warnings are given in newspapers not to use unlicensed vehicles, I feel it is always going to be a problem unless these changes are made.

BBC redeemed by Nativity

From: Maureen Hunt, Woolley, Near Wakefield.

THE BBC has been criticised recently for the poor quality of its religious broadcasting. Surely, the wonderful new production of The Nativity, shown in four half-hourly episodes during Christmas week, must have redeemed its reputation.

It brought the Christmas story dramatically to life, with real people showing genuine human emotions. And, of course, Mary and Joseph were ordinary human beings, just like us, which makes the events which took place all the more amazing.

Unfortunately, I missed the first episode as my video recorder let me down, which it does from time to time, probably due to the confusing instructions it receives from the operator! However, I trust I will be able to see it next year as I am hoping the BBC will repeat the series every Christmas in the future.

It gives us the true message of Christmas, of love and hope, which sometimes gets lost in the business and bustle of buying and wrapping presents, choosing cards and writing them, shopping for food and cooking, decorating the tree, the house, etc.

All of these tasks are important, but we do need to remember the reason for the celebration, otherwise it is like having a wedding feast without a bride and groom.

From: Gillian Paddock, Park Avenue, Hull.

AM I missing something? After pushing "Christmas" at the purchasing population for weeks on end, we found on Tuesday that our local Asda had removed the Christmas decorations from their store on Christmas Eve, just as Christmas actually arrives! So now the Christmas season is in full swing – all 12 days of it – there is not a Christmas tree or bauble in sight. Bizarre.

Vulnerable left to suffer

From: Kendal Wilson, Wharfebank Terrace, Tadcaster.

HAVE you ever thought, when you are cold, in the middle of an extremely cold winter, your money is running out rapidly, and government cuts are priming to take the biggest chunks out of your means of survival, that the jolly policy makers reside almost exclusively in warm places, eat well, have access to refined medical care and a host of highly-educated advisers who seek to change your life simply by collecting data in the form of research statistics?

These parliamentary policy-makers have many and varied access points to the media whom they seek, tell or work in collusion with to frighten us into thinking of the scrounger next door, never mind that the scrounger last week was made redundant but now, via the media, his neighbours are putting him under scrutiny.

The Government swore not to tinker with the most vulnerable in society, but it now proposes the withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance, the loss of Disability Living Allowance to wheelchair-bound residents in residential homes, and fund cuts to organisations in the North of England which help children stay with their extended families instead of going into care.

Perhaps the Government should advertise for an unpaid Mr Bumble to embrace this retrograde act.

I suggest that the electorate should believe in themselves, form groups, join groups, involve friends and campaign to stop the abusive nature of the cuts that are cutting swathes through the vulnerable.

Denied a real say on buses

From: Coun Nick Harvey, Stonegate, Hunmanby, Filey.

I WAS one of many people who have taken the time and trouble to take part in "the consultation" on planned cutbacks to evening and Sunday bus services in North Yorkshire.

I suggested ways that savings could have been made in other ways without hitting hardest those in most need. I, along with other residents, would have liked to attend the meeting where the decision is taken on January 6, despite it being in Northallerton.

I am shocked to learn that this decision will be taken by North Yorkshire Council, in private, by just the North Yorkshire County Council's Corporate Director of Business & Environment Services.

So much for listening to the people and being open.

Is this the same way, one wonders, that the closure of our branch libraries will be decided?

Queen's sport speech kicked issues into touch

From: Malcolm Naylor, Grange View, Otley.

This year's Queen's Christmas message was reminiscent of Basil Fawlty's "Don't mention the war" tirade.

Neither did she mention the collapse of the economy caused by her crony Establishment friends. Not a single word was uttered in respect for fallen soldiers, poverty and inequality. Was this because she lacks the courage to say anything against her cousin David Cameron or is she so encapsulated in her own privileged world she has no idea what the hell is going on?

The ever-increasing numbers in the Royal family are insulated from economic and social strife. Instead we had innocuous rubbish about the King James Bible and sport to cover up the ghastly reality. Other issues she also did not mentioned are the cuts in education and care services, and increases in taxes and pension age. In fact she don't mention anything that might make the natives restless by drawing attention to the real world. Go out and exhaust yourself playing games and take cold showers. Think of England or anything except what mugs we are for putting up with this Establishment claptrap.

Every Christmas we are subjected to this stupefying experience at a time when we are too weary to care about this geriatric garbage.

But the speech did contain some subliminal threats of "obeying the rules", intended for those who might be rebellious. But remember. We are all in this together and those who aren't will be dealt with. Also remember the miners. Water canon and rubber bullets are on the agenda to deal with civil disobedience. God save the Queen. If he doesn't, the Establishment will.

Queues for sales leave me cold

From: Brian Coleman, Harrogate Road, Leeds.

WHY the obsession with the New Year sales? The service offered by shops is often negligent – and the genuine bargains few and far between. Should we also be encouraging consumers to spend like crazy when people are going need their savings to survive 2011 and the inevitable increases in interest rates?

The people complaining about being unable to pay their bills were probably those who camped out overnight in advance of the sales.

Cathedral sends wrong message

From: Stephen Davis, Barncliffe Close, Fulwood, Sheffield.

THE Dean of Ripon (Yorkshire Post, December 28) says a planned wedding show at Ripon Cathedral "isn't a money-making exercise; our primary concern is to promote (Christian) marriage".

Really? I thought it's principal purpose was to practice and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

Petitions just a political stunt

From: Mrs J Valentine, Park Avenue, Hull.

THERE is no way that David Cameron will allow Downing Street petitions to form the basis of legislation (Yorkshire Post, December 29), as you imply in your Editorial comment.

What irritates me more is a possible return to the gimmick culture that was the hallmark of New Labour's legislative changes. I hope I am wrong.

Held to ransom

From: R Byrne, Menston, Leeds.

AFTER striking Northern Rail staff caused chaos on Monday and Tuesday in a dispute over Christmas pay when their company, ironically, did not provide any services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when is someone going to get to grips with the troublesome RMT union?

It must not be allowed to hold passengers to ransom.