Is this another nail in the coffin for UK farmers from our dearly beloved supermarkets? Supermarkets continually report increased profits, no doubt as a result of squeezing suppliers at every stage. Will supermarkets be the death of the traditional UK farmer?
Asda has dropped 200 of the 500 dairy farmers who supply it with milk which will cut their income by thousands a year, illegibly because of oversupply. The supermarket buys its milk from food company Arla and the farmers specifically get an extra 1p per litre bonus.
Asda told BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme that it had had to reduce the number of dedicated farmers because it had more milk than it needed. The changes would provide more opportunities for the remaining farmers, it added.
David Brown, a dairy farmer based near Harrogate in North Yorkshire, said: “We got a letter saying Asda have been looking at the dedicated farmer pool and they have reduced it and unfortunately we will no longer be supplying milk to Asda. It means I am going to lose somewhere in the region of £5,000 a year, which basically means there will be no future investment at this farm - that will be it.”
Mark Smith, a dairy farmer in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, said the news that he was being dropped from the Asda pool was “gut-wrenching”. The loss of the bonus would take his profits below the cost of production, he said.
Farmers Guardian article
Within the last week a planning application has been submitted by Nocton Dairies for an 8,000 strong dairy herd in Lincolnshire.
The proposal would facilitate 24 hour milking producing 430,000 pints of milk every day but the cows would see little or no green fields. The cows would be fed a special diet and milked three times a day.
The slurry from the cows will be used to generate power and could be sold to the national grid. An anaerobic digester will produce a biogas from the slurry which will generate enough electricity for the dairy and more than 2,000 homes.
Justin Kerswell, of animal rights group Viva, said: ‘This is factory farming and blows out of the water the pastoral image the dairy industry likes to portray.’
Farming is becoming ever more commercialised as it has to compete in a global market. Perhaps animal rights supporters should spend more time questioning why farmers are having to explore these measures. The paying public consistently wants cheaper products which the supermarkets are always happy to oblige. Sadly the original producer is usually forgotten.
Questions should be asked why so many dairy farmers are going out of business? If the general public would like the ‘anchor butter’ image of dairy farming to continue then they will need to pay a little more for a pint. The situation could be helped by supermarkets not using milk as a ‘loss leader’ which will no doubt have an impact of the price they are prepared to pay for it.
Daily Mail article
Meat Trade News Daily article
Farmers Guardian article