Fodder, the award winning shop and café at the Great Yorkshire Showground, has committed to paying a fair price to farmers for the milk they sell - and is urging other retailers to do the same.
In partnership with milk supplier Dales Dairies, the initiative takes the price paid to farmers to 32 pence per litre (ppl) for milk purchased by Fodder.
Milk prices have been tumbling since last February, from an average of 33.95ppl then, to 27.85ppl in December, latest DairyCo figures show, and the National Farmers’ Union said some farmers now get as little as 19ppl.
The Yorkshire Post revealed last Saturday how 1,314 Yorkshire dairy farmers had quit the industry since the turn of the century, leaving just 685 still operating today. Price squeezes, high input costs and increased regulation has driven hundreds out of the industry.
Harrogate-based Fodder and Dales Dairies said they are increasing the price paid to its farmer suppliers because are concerned by the difficulties facing those in the dairy trade.
Based in Grassington, near Skipton, Dales Dairies sells milk from its own farm and from 20 others in the area.
So far this month Dales Dairies’ suppliers to Fodder had been receiving 24.8ppl and over the last 12 months the price has fluctated by as much as 10p less than the new improved price.
Heather Parry, Fodder’s managing director, said: “Fodder wants to do what it can to help those 21 dairy farms. The benefit of truly fresh, local milk, should not be under-estimated - nutritionally, environmentally and economically.
“The recent over-production of milk on the world market has meant that the price farmers receive has plummeted. Thus the number of UK dairy farms has fallen below the 10,000 mark for the first time, as farmers struggle to make a profit.
“If we want the British dairy farms to survive, it’s vital that farmers are paid a sustainable price for their milk and so we are taking this unique step to make a stand on their behalf. We hope that other like-minded retailers will do the same and we also hope customers ‘vote with their feet’ and buy milk that supports our hard working dairy farmers.
“We know our own customers recognize the value of fresh local milk and we will continue to sell it at the same price happy that we are both supporting the farmers with payments substantially above the current average, whilst offering customers a great product at a fair price.”
Dales Dairies’ managing director, David Oversby, who is also a dairy farmer, added: “Fodder is the first retailer who has actively said it wants to pay farmers more. We are very happy to support this initiative and I am more than happy to match the commitment that Fodder has made to our farmers.”
Mark Smith, of Rookery Farm, Winterburn near Skipton supplies Dales Dairies.
He said “I really hope that others will follow Fodder’s lead as we all need to make a living wage.”
The Fodder shop and cafe is part of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s work in supporting the agricultural industry. It was established in 2009 to provide a market for local producers and currently supports more than 300 farmers and small producers.