Plea for new legislation to ensure dairy farmers receive a fair deal

Time is nigh for Government action to secure a better deal for dairy farmers, a farming lobby group leader claims.

Reductions in milk payments to farmers last year saw the Government support moves within the dairy sector to form a ‘Dairy Coalition’ involving all major farming bodies with the aim of implementing a Code of Best Practice in milk supply contracts. The Government warned that if milk buyers’ contracts with farmers failed to improve voluntarily by 31 March 2013 they would consider introducing legislation.

David Handley, chairman of Farmers For Action, told dairy farmers at a farm open day in Crakehall near Bedale, North Yorkshire, last week that the Government should now make good this promise.

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He said: “Only one dairy company has signed up 100 per cent to the code. That’s Dairy Crest and I commend them for that but the rest have just cherry picked the parts of the practice that they are prepared to be involved with and that’s not good enough. It’s time to go back to the minister and ask him to do what he promised he would once we reached the deadline.

“I have a dairy farm in Monmouth, South Wales, where we have a herd of 140 cows. I’m being paid just over 30p per litre and that’s not even covering the cost of production and there are thousands more like me.”

He also took the opportunity to lambast farmers for complaining about their plight but not backing organisations seeking resolutions, adding that Farmers For Action was more relevant now than ever before and it keeps everyone who represents the industry honest.

“Many people try to portray us as militant, but we’ve never been that way from day one,” he said.

“We believe that if there is a law that’s made that is wrong then it is humans who have made it and we have a right to change it.”

Action speaks louder than complaints: Country Week Page 3.