Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MP Demands Action on Dairy Farmers' Wages

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MP Demands Action on Dairy Farmers' Wages

Article excerpt

Byline: By Anna Lognonne

Anorthumberland mp is so concerned that dairy farmers are earning less than pounds 3 an hour that he has called on the Government to take action.

Hexham MP Peter Atkinson has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in Parliament highlighting his concerns about the dairy farming industry in the North-East region.

In the motion he says that he is very concerned that the recent Milk Development Council Report has highlighted a drop in farmgate prices for milk while supermarket margins on milk have increased significantly.

He said he was also very concerned that the average dairy farmer earns just pounds 2.90 an hour for a 70-hour week and has called on the Government to toughen up the Supermarket Code of Practice and to do more to encourage farmers' co-operatives to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of the retail price of milk.

Mr Atkinson said: "It is a very worrying state of affairs when a key agricultural sector, such as the dairy industry, is under extreme financial pressure and those working in it are being paid so poorly.

"The Government really does need to address the issue of the increasing gap between supermarket profit and the price the farmer receives.

"I have had conversations with dairy farmers in Tynedale in the last week and they are backing up what the research tells us. Swift action is required and I shall be maintaining pressure on the Government to toughen up the Supermarket Code of Practice."

His call comes as John Sumner, policy adviser for the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, told farmers at Smithfield this week that there must be greater transparency in the dairy food chain, and reiterated RABDF's bid for an off milk regulator to be introduced.

He said: "Farmgate milk prices are not sustainable and the UK remains firmly at the bottom of the EU milk price league table for the sixth consecutive year. …

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