Monday, 15 March 2010

Plaid calls for Milk and Supermarket Ombudsman after Aberconwy farm meeting

Following a campaign led by Phil Edwards in support of Aberconwy dairy farmers, Plaid Cymru has stepped up calls for a milk and supermarket ombudsman to help dairy farmers ensure a fair price for their pint of milk, laying an Early Day Motion to back the findings of a recent Competition Commission report.

Plaid’s DEFRA spokesperson at Westminster, Elfyn Llwyd MP, has this week laid an EDM after a meeting with farmers at Eglwysbach with Plaid Cymru’s Aberconwy candidate, Phil Edwards and receiving a petition signed by a thousand people on the issue.

Mr Llwyd said:

“I have been involved with this campaign for some years now, but the testimony of the Eglwysbach farmers surprised even me.

“Ten dairy production farms per week have closed in England and Wales in the last five years, showing the crisis felt in the industry.

“Meanwhile the supermarket industry has grown to encompass 75% of grocery sales within just four major companies who have a stranglehold on the market.

“The UK government has begun to recognise the issue but we have to tackle this problem in a big way now.

Phil Edwards added:

“After a number of meetings with dairy farmers, I launched a petition at the Royal Welsh Show in 2009 to support our farmers because many of them are not even receiving cost price for their products. We must take positive action to stop this haemorrhaging from the dairy industry before it’s too late.

“The dairy farming industry is one of the backbones of Wales but they have been scandalously let down and have operated with virtually no protection for many years under almost cartel-like conditions from the major suppliers.

“We must stand up for them, we need a milk and supermarket ombudsman with real teeth that will ensure fair play for our farmers.”



That this House welcomes the announcement of the introduction of a supermarket ombudsman as called for by the Competition Commission report of August 2009; notes that 75 per cent. of UK grocery sales are from supermarkets; further notes that the amount of money that dairy farmers receive for their milk from the supermarkets often does not cover the cost of production; also notes that the price farmers get for a pint of milk has fallen in real terms whilst their costs of producing milk continue to increase, and that England and Wales are losing 10 dairy production holdings a week; believes that this is putting the Welsh dairy industry at risk as well as the viability and sustainability of Wales' rural communities, including the care of the countryside and wildlife; and calls for the supermarket ombudsman to be formed as soon as practicable and for its responsibility to include ensuring a fair price and a fair and level playing field for dairy farmers against the purchasing power and market share of supermarkets.

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