10 NOV 2014

SIMON HART MP LEADS DEBATE ON DAIRY CRISIS FACING LOCAL FARMERS

The crisis facing Pembrokeshire's dairy farmers was the topic of a special Westminster debate led by Simon Hart MP.

South west Wales has the highest concentration of dairy farmers in the UK and many of them are now being paid less for their milk than it costs them to produce – with little prospect of improvement.

Mr Hart led the Westminster Hall debate in Parliament last week which was attended by 26 MPs from all parts of the UK.

He told them: "If we're lucky, we might need a doctor, an accountant or a lawyer once or twice a year, but we need a farmer three times a day.

"Fluctuating prices, tensions between farmers and processors, and criticism of retailers, especially supermarkets, are nothing new in agriculture," he added.

"But what is completely unsustainable is the long-term prospect of having to sell its milk for less than the cost of generating it in the first place, and the extraordinarily short notice that some producers get of significant price changes, about which they can do nothing but sit back and take the pain."

The MPs scrutinised the role of the groceries code adjudicator and wording of the dairy code of practice.

He added: "The industry recognises that overproduction is a problem and affects price. The industry also recognises reduced demand as a result of changing buying habits in China and of Russian sanctions."

He told MPs that 50% of British milk is sold at home and that its price is a straightforward consequence of the relationship between UK-based retailers and the processors.

Solutions that he suggested included identifying and exploiting new markets; accessing more EU funding to promote dairy products and greater collaboration between farmers.

He also mentioned some short term proposals that could help including improving food labelling and procurement policies, fighting TB and deregulation.

"Regulation is simply an added cost to farmers and there are not necessarily any positive benefits," he said. "There is layer upon layer of regulation, so the more we can strip away, without compromising food safety or animal welfare, the better."

Mr Hart has also organised a Public Meeting on the dairy crisis which will be addressed by former farmer and MEP Neil Parish who is now MP for Tiverton and Honiton and chairman of the Dairy All Party Parliamentary Group. All welcome.

*The dairy crisis meeting with Neil Parish MP is taking place at the Plas Hyfryd Hotel, Narberth at 8pm on Thursday 11 December.

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Simon Hart MP
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

Or

15, St John St
Whitland
Carmarthenshire
SA34 0AN

Phone:

01994 242002
or 0207 219 3000

Email:

simon.hart.mp@parliament.uk

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