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What about 'Fairtrade' for milk suggests a correspondent

1st March 2007 @ 10:10am – by Audlem Webteam
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Following Audlem Online's story this week about the plight of dairy farmers being paid less than the cost of production for their milk, one correspondent has suggested that the supermarkets introduce 'Fairtrade' milk which will ensure the farmers receive a fair price for their product.

'Fairtrade' schemes have been introduced for products like coffee and chocolate and extra money out of the consumer price – normally higher than for the normal supermarket 'unfair' products – goes to farmers in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere in the developing world.

English dairy farmers supplying the supermarkets receive around 18p a litre for milk, yet it's sold for 49p, making it cheaper than many bottles of mineral water.

The House of Commons All-Party Group on Dairy Farming found that while the retail price of milk has risen by 11% in the past 15 years, the price paid to farmers had fallen by 10%. The dairy industry was being "ripped off" by the supermarkets, the MPs concluded.

It may be strange to be asking for 'Fairtrade' in a country like England, but the issue is virtually the same as with imported goods. The plea may well fall on deaf ears, however, as Sainsbury's chief executive was reported to have responded to the plight of dairy farmers by saying that his company would not buy British produce "at any cost", stating: "We cannot and will not prop up inefficient businesses."

Our correspondent also points out that as dairy farms close, the process is virtually irreversible. The countryside as we know it will be changed for ever and once we realise what's been done, with our milk being largely imported, there'll be nobody willing or able to restart an industry that's currently being killed by the supermarkets.


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