A paragraph in an emailed message received from a Lancashire farmer said: “I am truly incensed with what I heard on the BBC R4 report this morning on the dairy farming situation and was appalled by what was mostly utter and misleading rubbish and pure propaganda”.
Often it is implied that farmers want the shopper to pay a higher price.
This is probably a ‘divide and rule’ tactic and is not true. Farmers like Andrew Hemming, the late vice-chairman of Farmers for Action (right), actually believe that shoppers are paying a good price and should not pay more. Milk producers want to have a better share from the supermarket-paid processor to come from the profit margins of these well-paid middlemen.
Market pundits say that the low milk price was due to surplus production
But only 85% of milk in Britain is produced by British dairy farmers – so there is no national surplus.
On Radio 4, unchallenged, it was said that the farmers threw out the milk board & it now serves them right.
I checked: Mrs Thatcher decided to abolish the Milk Marketing Board (below: 1983 stamp). Our farming informant adds that at the time the EU mounted a number of legal challenges against the end use pricing system that operated at the time under competition laws and also the state owned marketing board was against the free market philosophy.
Farmer Anthony Bradley in the Guardian recalls,“In the 1930s our grandad could remember putting milk and butter on the train and sending it to Bradford or Leeds. But some days it was sent back, without payment, and the family pig had a large meal . . . This abuse of market power, made worse by dealing with a perishable product, was one of the reasons the board was established. It took the uncertainty out of the market and allowed farmers to plan. This was vital, as a cow cannot be switched off when your milk buyer changes their mind. The MMB pooled all the milk and then marketed it together. Then Mrs Thatcher decided to abolish the Milk Marketing Board.
The powerful corporate lobby is desperate to preserve the highest profits
Producers of perishable food will continue to suffer and be held to ransom in turn.
Our farmer reminds him of the figures which have been publicised for years. These show that the already rich large and/or corporate landholders receive most of the subsidy cash – a few named opposite – with Arla heading the list in Denmark and adds:
“We have never claimed any subsidy other than the very basic payment which helps to pay the bills we would be able to pay if we were paid a proper value for our produce”.
America is already said to be ‘losing the battle’ against tainted imported food and already publishes figures on this issue, showing comparatively few inspections (left).
Britain keeps quiet.
If the public remains uninformed and silent, in turn they will eventually be held to ransom, relying even further on ever more expensive imported food, sometimes produced by dubious if not dangerous methods.