Farmers often complain about how tough it is being a farmer, but this week things came to a head, with major supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s coming under fire for paying farmers less for their milk than it costs to produce at the farm. The Co-operative, true to its wholesome, friendly image, is the first to concede the point to the farmers, and has announced it will increase the premium that it pays farmers in its group.
The Farmers for Action (FFA) group has warned that dairy farmers across the UK will soon be forced out of business because of a combination of price cuts from supermarkets, and rising costs of feed for cows. The group claims that some farmers are losing 3p per litre on milk that goes on to be used for cheese, butter and liquid milk.
But in a small victory for FFA, the Co-operative Dairy Group (CDG) has announced that its farmers will receive a rise of 2.57p per litre immediately, and in August this year, the premium will increase to 4.27p per litre. This means farmers will receive around 29p per litre if they have a deal with the Co-op. No other supermarkets have made public any intention to follow suit.
The scuffle follows Dairy Crest’s closure of two production sites, putting 500 jobs under threat earlier this year. The move came partly as a result of the firm losing its contract to supply milk to Tesco – one of the largest contracts of its kind in the UK.
For farmers still tied to other supermarkets, however, they really will be crying over spilt milk…