Warning of ‘crisis’ for farming industry

Dairy farms are amongst those facing crisis according to farmers unions across the UK
Dairy farms are amongst those facing crisis according to farmers unions across the UK

Farming leaders are calling for a “seismic change” in the way food is sold in the UK, and warn that there could be dire consequences for the farming industry and rural economy if no action is taken.

As worried farmers in the North-east voiced concern at the situation, unions have jointly urged Government, retailers and processors, and the European Union not to ignore the warning signs that agriculture is in a state of emergency.

And NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie told the Herald that current system of supply and demand is 
not working.

Allan highlighted that it is not only dairy farming facing crisis but also the lamb industry is also suffering badly. He called on retailers to stop using perishable foods as a loss leader.

Allan told the Herald that a further meeting with all the UK farming unions and the UK and Scottish Government and Welsh and Irish counterparts will take place next Monday to try and find a solution to the crisis facing the industry. He is also looking for farmers leaders to sit down with retailers to see what can be done to sort out the problems within the supply chain, saying that farmers are only looking for a fair margin.

The wet summer and volatility in the global market have only added to woes in the agricultural sector, with Allan noting that not may businesses could cope with extreme volatility that farmers regularly face.

Allan also thanked the public for their continued support, saying “We would urge the public to continue to buy Scottish and British produce wherever possible. We appreciate the support of consumers and the public. They know that all we are asking is for a fair reward for the investment and risk that farmers take.”

They want the Government “to admit that something has gone fundamentally wrong in the supply chain and take remedial action. In general, voluntary codes are not delivering their intended purpose. Government needs to take action to ensure that contracts to all farmers are longer-term and fairer in apportioning risk and reward. At the moment in many contracts all the risk is put on the farmer with very little of the reward.”

And they are calling on retailers to “Stop devaluing fresh British food like milk purely to get customers through the door. Start demonstrating right now how you are ensuring that ALL the food you are selling comes from a farm which has been paid a fair price.”

There will be emergency European Union meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers on September 7 and farmers are calling for UK ministers to stand up for British farming, and in particular ensure that European safety nets are at a proper level and do something to underwrite the short term credit position of vulnerable farmers. The statement concludes, “It’s time to Back British Farming and the farming unions are looking to Government and retailers to take action now. Until they do, farmers will be making their presence felt, where they feel there is unfairness in the supply chain locally, nationally and in Europe from now and including September 7.”