Local MP stands up for Dairy Industry in Westminster

Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr Jonathan Edwards has used today’s Westminster European Committee meeting to champion a fair deal for dairy producers in Wales.
The meeting was held to discuss the European Commission’s proposals for a regulation of contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector. On the day the Agricultural Committee in Brussels was discussing the same issue, the Carmarthenshire MP advocated the strengthening of farmer’s rights who are currently in a weak position by not having sufficient control of the price they receive for their milk.

The Commission proposals on contracts provide a basis for addressing the significant flaws that exist in current contractual arrangements that force dairy farmers to supply all of the milk they produce to dairies, exclusively, for a duration not less than 12 months with very little, if any, predictability about the price he or she will be paid for the milk.

Mr. Edwards used his address to the committee to the caution against the use of ‘exclusivity contracts’ and called on the UK to ensure that contracts between a farmer and processor which would, in future, outline an agreed price and volume, are made compulsory.

Speaking after the meeting Mr. Edwards said:

“I’m very pleased to have had the opportunity to once again stand up for dairy farmers in Wales.

“The milk sector is of huge importance to Wales. Our milk contributes approximately 10 per cent of the UK’s total figure. The main milk producing region is Carmarthenshire, with processors ranging from local dairies to specialist cheese-makers.

“We have long had to contend with changes in the milk and grocery sectors and a growing internationalism in the industry, which means that we must work hard to ensure that native, local producers are not inhibited or prevented from entering the market and getting a fair price for their product.

“After the milk crisis, which saw demand for dairy products significantly decrease following unusually high prices in 2007, The European Commission has recommended a ‘milk package’ be introduced. This package has four key areas which will address farmers’ bargaining power and create a harmonised approach across the European Union.

“My contribution to the committee today called on the UK to ensure that future contracts which would outline an agreed price between farmers and processors are compulsory, but without exclusivity. I believe this would inhibit fair competition in the sector.”

Constituency Colleague Rhodri Glyn Thomas added:

“Jonathan’s work in Westminster is a continuation of the excellent work carried out by Plaid Cymru’s Minister for Rural Affairs in the Welsh Government.

“I’m encouraged by the European Commission’s proposals to introduce a ‘milk package’ to ensure farmers get a fair price for their product. I would promote the possibility of farmers bargaining collectively for the terms of their contract, so that they would be in a stronger position.

“In Wales, a £3.3million investment programme for the dairy industry has been announced and as a party, both in Wales and Westminster, Plaid has long supported a milk ombudsman to ensure fair play for farmers and customers.

“Following the demise of Dairy Farmers of Britain, Elin Jones processed 258 Single Farm Payments worth approximately £5million in advance to soften the blow to affected dairy farmers in Wales.

“The dairy sector in Wales can rely on Plaid Cymru to stand up for our rural economy.

One Response to “Local MP stands up for Dairy Industry in Westminster” [latest first]

  1. We need a sustainable beef and dairy industry for Wales. We must stop feeding cattle on imported soya (much of which is probabl GM and grown on land where rainforests have been cut down)

    If imported GM soya is used in the food chain then all cartons of milk should be labled to reflect this. Many consumers will not want to consume GM foods.

    Farmers should be rewarded for for including bio diversity on their farms and not just producing one product. We need a variety of wild flowers and fruits, not just acres of grassland, otherwise our bees will suffer – the bee immune system will suffer without a diverse range of nectar on which to feed.

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