August 7, 2015


Emergency summit to be held over UK's troubled farming industry



The current financial woes of the UK's livestock and dairy sectors have prompted unions to arrange an emergency summit in response to the situation.


Farmers are recently hit by inadequate profits which are below production costs while a drop in milk and lamb prices only exacerbated uncertainties. In recent weeks, demonstrations were launched outside supermarkets and retailers' depots. 


Acknowledging the crisis, Meurig Raymond, the president of National Farmers Union (NFU), voiced concern over the repetitive bouts of price cuts suffered by milk producers. "It's simply not sustainable for any farmer to continue to produce milk if they're selling it at a loss," he said.


Urging for a "united front" to back British farming, Raymond called for swift actions from retailers, the food service sector and processors to aid the region's dairy farmers.


"I want to see government agencies doing more to support the public procurement of British food," he said.


Another affected production group are lamb producers. Raymond suggested that producers are in a competitive struggle with New Zealand's lamb which was promoted by some local retailers. This is despite the availability of prime lambs in the UK.  


"For many lamb producers, they need evidence that supermarkets will back British farming and give British lamb a pride of place in supermarkets," Raymond expressed.


NFU officials from Wales and Scotland also voiced their support for actions dealing with issues which had troubled sectors in their respective countries.


Allan Bowie, the president of NFU Scotland, said the financial situation is "not sustainable for businesses and ultimately going out of business is not an option."


"There needs to be a clear understanding from all of those involved that something has to change. For Scotland, it's not just dairy or the lamb markets that are affected, all commodities are feeling it. Coupled with the ongoing adverse weather, we can see the significant pressure that businesses are under," Bowie added.


The official warned that Scottish farmers could resort to demonstrations if the crisis prolongs.


According to Ian Marshall, the president of the Ulster Farmers Union, the UK farming industry is facing a "multi-factorial problem" on both a sectoral and geographical level, offering little hope of a concrete solution.


"It is essential that everyone in the government and supply chain play their part in addressing difficulties," Marshall said.


"The understandable frustration of farmers is starting to spill over into actions that no one wants."

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