Sunday, 16 September 2012
Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has condemned the predatory tactics of the
major supermarkets and milk processors in their dealings with dairy farmers.
The SNP’s Westminster Agriculture spokesperson was speaking in a debate at the House of Commons on Wednesday. Dr Whiteford took the opportunity of this first outing for the new UK Agriculture Minister David Heath to urge the Minister to “seize that opportunity to bring transparency and fairness to the dairy pricing regime and take action to ensure fair prices for all our food producers caught in over-concentrated and uncompetitive supply chains”.
Speaking during the debate, Dr Whiteford said:
“Farmers are angry, and it is heartbreaking for people who get up at 4.30 every morning to milk their cows to be working for nothing. They are seeing their livelihood and way of life destroyed, so that supermarkets can post multi-billion pound annual profits.
“The dairy farmers in Banff and Buchan have little choice about where to send their milk for processing—most of it goes to Wiseman because there is no other large processor locally. That lack of competition compounds the inherent imbalance in the relationship between suppliers, processors and retailers. The suppliers are in an invidious position: they simply do not have enough negotiating muscle.
“Whatever steps we take to mitigate the worst excesses of irresponsible corporate behaviour, we also need to address the underlying problems. A window of opportunity has been created by the actions of dairy farmers and the high profile that they have generated this summer, allowing Ministers to grasp the nettle of supply chains. I hope that the new Minister will seize that opportunity to bring transparency and fairness to the dairy pricing regime and take action to ensure fair prices for all our food producers caught in over-concentrated and uncompetitive supply chains.”