‘Food is not just a commodity, but the foundation of life’

March 15, 2015


FFA Musgrave

WELFARE ISSUE: Members of the Ulster Farmers For Action group protest against the market practices of the Musgrave supermarket franchise chain which they claim has left up to 25 per cent of the UK’s farmers in poverty. Over here in Dorset and Somerset, local FFA members say equivalent offenders are the Tesco’s, Sainsburys and Asdas of this world.

BETTER TOGETHER: David Handley, Farmers For Action chairman, told the Semex conference that the dairy farming community should share all the proceeds equally and move away from elite contracts.


MARKET volatility and supermarket price wars has made milk prices become a welfare issue, rather than a competition one.

This is a claim made by William Taylor of Farmers For Action who says FFA Ulster is pursuing Stormont, the province’s parliament, to get prices to a minimum cost of production plus a margin inflation link, not just to milk but to all sectors of food production.

He claims recent figures suggest that 25 per cent of all farmers across the country are living below the poverty line.

This is based on facts supplied by one of the major political parties  published recently in Farmers Weekly.

There was a real urgency in addressing the issue of food security and sustainability as it was not high up the list of priorities of the main parties fighting the General Election on 7 May.

Mr Taylor said: “This is a welfare issue, caused by corporate food companies, not adhering to their Corporate Social Responsibility.

“The legislation will pass all legislation checks all the way to Brussels, a quote recently by a professor specialising in EU law stated that ‘in Brussels if it is a competition or welfare issue, welfare will win every time!’ Bear this in mind when you are casting your vote, if your local MP is not truthfully promising to implement legislation on farm gate prices (which would create 220,000 jobs immediately with a multiple of this to follow) immediately their party is elected – then vote for the one that is going to do so! Meanwhile, please support the petition and tell your neighbours and their families to do the same and spread the word.”

Bob Sugar added: “Dairy exports are at a high partly because of unsustainably low milk prices here. If prices remain low it won’t be dairy products that will be exported but milk production itself.

“I can’t believe how short-sighted our leaders are to think it is in the good of the country to import nearly 50 per cent of our food.

“Food is not just a commodity but the very foundation of life. Unlike the other industries that have been thrown away, we cannot live without food.”

Speaking at the Semex conference in February, FFA chairman David Handley said everyone in the dairy sector must stand firm and that meant moving away from elite supply contracts and sharing all the proceeds.

He said: “They don’t know when their next pound is going to come from. We cannot allow that to happen – that is a disgrace , an indictment that will live us forever if we sit back and watch that. It’s not their fault – yes, some of them may have made wrong management decisions. I’m not saying you should support an ailing business – I am saying support your fellow dairy farmers.

“Within eight to ten years we could be down to 5,000 dairy farmers. I’m telling you with this volatility, this bullshit and this morality continues, we could well be there within five years time.

“What’s going to happen to businesses like Semex, the feed industry, the fertiliser industry, the dairy engineer, the rural community – one dairy farm equals 30 plus industries feeding into that one catalyst. This is too important to be allowed to die.

“The only way we can get continued support from our customer, our consumer is we have to get the message out. We have to explain to people what it entails.

“I think some of you may be thinking he is talking out of here or somewhere lower down but if people don’t know or understand it is no wonder they get angry when we are hauling grass silage, corn or maize or potatoes and they’re in a queue – they just think the guy in the machine Is an ignorant farmer – far from it.”

If anyone reading this wants to keep their milk fresh, grass-fed and local, then click here to sign this petition to the Department of Business.



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