MPs urge govt to help protect dairy producers

 
Kasmira Jefford
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A domestic milk glut led to a lower price for UK dairy farmers in 2014
MPs urged the government yesterday to do more to protect dairy farmers against falling milk prices.

A report published by the parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee Groceries Code Adjudicator suggests a raft of measures to help the dairy industry deal with volatile market.

It wants the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA), which monitors supermarkets and their suppliers, to be extended to include dairy farmers and said it should also have the power to fine retailers found to have squeezed producers over price.

The committee also urged the government to do more to promote the export of UK dairy produce overseas and for an EU-wide review of milk prices. It also said forming “producer organisations” would help farmers grow their market presence.

Dairy producers have come under pressure due to a glut in domestic milk supply combined with falling demand from China and Russia’s ban on EU food products. As result, the average farm-gate milk price has fallen steadily since February 2014.

Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, disagreed that new GCA powers would help deal with volatility in prices but welcomed other suggestions in the report, including greater promotion of UK dairy produce.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said it was doing all it could to help farmers deal with pricing pressures. It added that the GCA’s role did not currently cover pricing issues and said there will be a review of the adjudicator next year.

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