A lot has been made of the recent plummet in milk prices, particularly in the UK, but it is not just milk where farmers are being hit. Beef, lamb and pork prices are all way below what they were last year and prices appear to be dropping.
This is a pressing issue for the British farming industry and it is an unfortunate, but unavoidable, consequence that more farmers are packing it in.
Morrison’s recently introduced a Milk for Farmers scheme, which as an idea was fantastic. For every bottle bought of the marked promotion an extra 23p was going to back to dairy farmers. This equated to 10p extra per litre. In fact, the extra 23p is going to Arla, one of the world’s biggest milk producers. The profit is then split between all farms within the EU that provide Arla with milk. Of these, just over 20 per cent are based in Britain. What could have been a fantastic idea to bolster our flagging dairy industry is, in fact, only helping a very few, and with benefits only being around £1 a day hardly even helping those.
Lamb is another area where farmers are being hit hard. When I go to supermarkets the shelves are stocked with a variety of lamb, but often it is all from New Zealand. What I can’t understand is why? At this time of year many farmers are sending fat lambs to be butchered ready for consumption so why is it that supermarkets see the need to import so much of a product that is readily available?
With prices per kilogramme of lamb being around 20p cheaper than they were at this time last year, and retail price only being around 10p lower, it seems ridiculous that shops can get away with this.
We need to support our beleaguered farming and agricultural industry. This article barely scratches the surface of the struggles that a lot of our farmers face, but I implore you to consider where your food is coming from.
Next time you are in the supermarket have a look at the label on the meat you are buying and see where it has come from. Better still, go to your local butcher as they will often be able to tell you which field the cow spent most of its life grazing in. Buy milk that is British, and although the Morrison’s scheme isn’t ideal, it still does help some farmers.
Britain has always been a country that farms and it would be a shame to lose more of them.
Richard Flook, Vet