The UK farming unions are to stage an urgent summit to discuss the problems facing the industry and particularly the crisis in the livestock and dairy sectors where many farmers are facing financial devastation. This follows falling prices which has seen many farmers getting paid less than the cost of production.
Falling milk and lamb prices have left many farmers desperately worried about their future. In recent weeks there have been convoys of tractors carrying out rolling roadblocks on the A50 in Staffordshire and Derbyshire while hundreds of farmers have been demonstrating outside retailers’ depots and supermarkets.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “The situation many of our members are experiencing has become a crisis. In dairy, many milk producers have seen price cut after price cut. It’s simply not sustainable for any farmer to continue to produce milk if they’re selling it at a loss. The plight of many farmers has become desperately serious and with no sign that things will improve, we really need urgent action from retailers, the food service sector and processors to show commitment to British dairy farmers. I also want to see Government agencies doing more to support the public procurement of British food.
“For many lamb producers too, they need evidence that supermarkets will back British farming and give British lamb pride of place on the supermarket shelves. British lamb is in its prime right now and I, personally, find it very concerning that some retailers are continuing to promote New Zealand lamb when we have prime lamb, in season, on our doorstep.
“Now, during this crisis in our industry, is the time for a united front, so it’s important the UK farming unions stand together to call for a commitment to back British farming.”
Ian Marshall, Ulster Farmers Union President, said: “This is a multi-factorial problem across the entire industry both sectorally and geographically for which there is no single solution. But it is essential that everyone in Government and the supply chain plays their part in helping to urgently address these genuine and serious difficulties. The understandable frustration of farmers is starting to spill over into actions that no one wants.”
Stephen James, NFU Cymru President, said: “Let there be no doubt over the seriousness of the situation and as the UK unions we are looking for action to help alleviate the dire situation. By coming together and working as one I hope we can co-ordinate activity on several key action points which will not only benefit Welsh farmers but farmers from across the UK.”
NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said: “Our farming members are expressing real concern in Scotland at the desperate plight many of their businesses are facing due to the severe financial pressures imposed by those throughout the supply chain which has been ongoing for a number of months.
“This is obviously not sustainable for these businesses and ultimately going out of business is not an option. There needs to be a clear understanding from all of those involved that something has to change. For Scotland, it’s not just dairy or the lamb markets that are affected, all commodities are feeling it. Coupled with the ongoing adverse weather we can see the significant pressure that businesses are under.
“We obviously have a UK-wide problem here and collectively the unions need to come up with answers for the benefit of our members but also importantly, the future of the industry.
“We know farmers are demonstrating elsewhere in the UK and we understand their concerns. It might not be long before Scottish farmers start to take action themselves.”