Big supermarkets are milking us dry

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IF WE do not act immediately our dairy farms will be gone and our countryside become a barren waste.

Can I ask you, and your fellow editors throughout the land, to bring the power of the press to bear upon a price situation that is arguably worse in terms of its impact on the nation’s economy than the present banking nightmare.

Supermarkets are the architects of this impending disaster, although some are aware of their responsibility to help and are taking active steps to do so.

From this month, Sainsbury’s quarterly review of its cost tracker formula has produced a 0.26p per litre price increase which will take their standard litre price to 30.56p per litre for farmers supplying them through milk processors Dairy Crest and Wiseman.

The increase is a result of the never ending rise in the cost of feed, fuel and fertiliser.

Now that is fine for farmers contracted to supply Sainsbury’s who are on the cost tracking formula, but what about the ones who are not?

They too supply their milk through Wiseman, Dairy Crest and Arla and for them there is nothing but pain.

Wiseman has announced from August 1 it will cut their price to – what are termed non-aligned farmers – by 1.7p per litre and it is expected that other liquid milk processors will follow suit.

By that date Wiseman’s non aligned farmers will be on a standard litre price of 24.7p per litre. Sainsbury’s farmers, meanwhile, will be almost 6p per litre ahead at 30.56p per litre, with M&S, Waitrose in the same region or higher, and Tesco not far behind at 29.56p per litre.

The nightmare reality of it all is that the market will be paying less than 25p per litre against a cost of production of 31p per litre.

How long can a farmer survive if for every litre he produces he loses 6p? The effect of all this is that Morrisons, Asda, Co-op, Lidl, Iceland and Aldi will all be paying around 5p per litre less than Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and M&S for their milk.

The only solution is for retailers who do not have cost of production formulas to recognise they simply have to pay more for their milk.

We need to see an end to offers of four pints for £1.

Go into your local supermarkets and ask them about milk prices, and why they use milk as a loss leader in their senseless fight for market share.

Do not be put off when they refer you to head office. Try asking your member of parliament if he has any idea as to what is going on, tell him to get on the case.

Ask your local press and the nationals too to help Britain’s dairy farms win the battle for survival.

Name and address supplied

Euro-lite does not exist

Many areas of our lives are now decided in Europe.

A group of MPs is looking at whether powers can be taken back to our elected representatives.

A growing number of people want an EU In/Out referendum; a common complaint being that nobody under 55 has had a proper chance to vote on this important issue.

Where do the facts lie?

Our legal research shows that once powers have been transferred to the EU, they cannot be given back to national level.

Nor is it possible to renegotiate an ‘EU Lite’ type of membership, as staying in involves a commitment to more not less Europe. Former Eurocrat Peter Mandelson got it right when he warned that the EU some people seek (trade only or looser ties) is not on offer.

So the choice seems to be in or out, with no half-measures.

At least if we ceased to be part of the EU, it would legally be committed to working for free trade and good neighbourly relations with us. We need a full and honest debate on what either choice would mean. For more information, write to me, or visit the website www.newalliance.org.uk.

Mark Taylor

New Alliance

PO Box 13199

London SW6 6ZU