Farmers In Great Christmas Free Milk Giveaway

UK - Scottish dairy farmers have highlighted the threat to future supplies of Scottish milk and dairy products by giving away hundreds of pints of free milk to lucky Christmas shoppers at supermarkets in Glasgow and Edinburgh today (Thursday, 16 December).
calendar icon 17 December 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

The farmers entered into the festive spirit at stores in Govan and South Queensferry but there was a very serious side to their Christmas message. While supermarkets and consumers continue to enjoy and appreciate the wide range of milk, cheese and dairy products on their shelves, the price being paid to Scottish farmers for the milk going into these products is not covering the cost of producing it on the farm.

NFU Scotland, who organised the give-away, believes that a fairer share of the money being made from the dairy shelves and cabinets in supermarkets must come back down the chain to the farm gate if we want to secure supplies of Scottish milk in the future. This can be done without asking shoppers to pay an extra penny for their fresh Scottish milk and cheese.

While today’s give-away is focussed on milk and dairy products, NFU Scotland is concerned that a whole number of chains delivering food from Scottish farms onto retailer shelves are under similar pressure. The Union is calling for retailers to play their part in delivering a sustainable future to all Scottish farmers, regardless of what they are producing.

Speaking from the Asda Superstore in Govan, NFU Scotland President Jim McLaren said: “Almost all the milk produced on Scottish dairy farms goes to help fill supermarket shelves – this could be as fresh, nutritious pints of milk, quality Scottish cheddar, not to mention butter, cream, yoghurts and dairy desserts.

“The good news is that consumption of milk and cheese is rising and every supermarket in Scotland – large and small – is doing very well from providing their customers with fresh milk and dairy products. Dairy farmers want to share in that good news but the reality on farm is that most dairy farmers are currently receiving a price for their milk that is well below the cost of producing it.

“Without asking shoppers to pay any more for their food, we believe there is an opportunity for retailers to deliver a fairer share of their considerable margin back down the chain to those doing the hard work on the farm. To be sustainable, farmers need a price for any food they produce that covers the cost of production, allows them to look after their families, their staff and meet the growing level of cost and investment needed to run any modern farm.

“Asking retailers to help deliver a fair share of the margin made on food back to the farm gate is a perfectly reasonable demand and one that shoppers across Scotland have been backing in their droves today. Our recent discussions with supermarkets on the need for a fairer supply chain across all food sectors have been fruitless. Perhaps they will listen to their customers?

“The response that we have received from those going into supermarket stores today shows that they value and appreciate the part Scottish farmers play in delivering fresh food on a daily basis, an appreciation that has only grown in the recent weather and transport chaos. We need supermarkets to show a similar commitment to all those farmers who work hard to stock their shelves – whether that is with milk and dairy products, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs, fruit and vegetables. All parts of the chain are entitled to a fair return for their efforts.

“In the coming year we have the prospect of Government finally introducing legislation that will establish an adjudicator or policeman for retailers. We hope that adjudicator will effectively police arrangements in all supply chains and reassure consumers of fair play in the way they receive their goods.

“In the short-term, we need supermarkets to show that their public promises on how they treat their suppliers are more than just lip service. Recent inflation figures highlight rising food prices as a major factor. With the prices paid to farmers for their produce currently stagnant, Government and the general public will very quickly realise who has benefited from rising food prices the next time our supermarkets publish their annual profits.”

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