Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Milking them dry

"Today the National Federation of Women's Institutes is launching a Great Milk Debate with a conference in London and meetings around the country to address the crisis in dairy farming. The WI's 211,000 members voted the plight of milk producers their top priority last year, and want farmers to get a fairer share of the money spent on milk in the shops.

The price of milk in the shops has risen roughly 20% in five years, from just over 44p a litre in 2002 to just over 53p in 2007. Yet the price paid to farmers has fallen.

In 1995, producers got 24.5p a litre for their milk; the average today is 18p a litre, which represents a loss of more than 3p on every litre. Kemble Farms has been getting 19p a litre. The result has been a huge rise in supermarket profits from milk, but an exodus from dairy farming, which is still accelerating. On average three dairy farmers leave the industry every day; there were 35,000 dairy farms in the UK in 1995 and there are now only about 19,000. A further 3,000 dairy farmers told the Milk Development Council in a survey earlier this month that they plan to leave in the next two years."

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