Ribble Valley MP backs farmers’ protest over milk prices

Nigel Evans with John Stott
Nigel Evans with John Stott

CONCERNED farmers protesting about the price of milk are being backed by Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans.

Dairy farmers across the Ribble Valley and the UK are struggling as supermarkets pay farmers less for their milk than it costs to produce.

Speaking from Westminster, Mr Evans, who is Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “I met today with John Stott, a dairy farmer from Chipping, and we had a productive discussion about the situation the industry is currently in.

“On the one hand, it is simple economics – why would anybody continue to produce milk when the money they receive for doing so is less than it cost them to produce it in the first place?

“The second point is one of fairness and morality. The supermarkets are engaged in a milk price war, trying to offer the best deal for consumers. “However, that cost saving is being met in reduced rates for farmers while the supermarkets profit margins remain untouched. Asda, Aldi and Lidl are causing the biggest problems for farmers with their pricing.

“The average UK farm gate price was 27.91 pence per litre in April which is roughly 4% less than at the beginning of the year and 3% lower than the average price in the EU. When you consider that only France and Germany have a bigger dairy industry you can begin to understand just how difficult it is becoming for British farmers not only to compete but to survive. Farmers in my constituency are now selling their milk for only 26p per litre.

“1 litre of milk costs 30p to make, but is only sold for 26p which represents and annual loss to the average British farm on £50,000.

“I have written to the farming minister, Jim Paice MP, to say the dairy industry needs action now. It is high time supermarkets stopped fleecing dairy farmers and released their stranglehold over the industry. If they do not, I strongly believe the government should think about introducing a minimum price for milk so farmers across the country are not put out of business.”