Sir, I am a 27-year-old dairy farmer from Gloucestershire. I am the fourth generation to farm this land, and I find myself at a crossroads. From 1 August, each time our milk is collected, I calculate we will lose £400.
This is due, in part, to rising costs. But the main reason is that milk processors have reduced what they pay farmers and they set the price at whatever level makes them money, with little regard for us.
Supermarkets must shoulder a great deal of blame here too. They exert huge pressure on processors to undercut one another. They have also created division among farmers, handing out golden tickets in the form of ‘aligned contracts’, worth on average 6p per litre more than the majority of farmers are getting - for the same product. The strength of feeling among the 2,500 dairy farmers at the NFU’s Dairy Summit on Wednesday 11 July was breathtaking. We now have to engage with the public, encourage them to understand how hard we are working for less than nothing and show them the imbalance of power in the supply chain.
So, I ask farming minister Jim Paice and the public to think about the true cost of the milk. Focus not on the pennies that have been stolen from us but look beyond that to the health of our cows and the lives of our dairy farmers. After all, our cows are our lives.
Matthew Baber, dairy farmer