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Farron calls for government action to save dairy farmers

June 9, 2009 12:00 AM

Lib Dem Shadow Defra secretary Tim Farron has called on the Government to intervene to prevent devastation in the British Dairy industry after the collapse of Dairy Farmers of Britain.

1800 dairy farmers have lost a total of £50 million after the co-operative went into receivership last week owing around £20 million unpaid for milk collected in May. Meanwhile, dairy farmers are desperately seeking new buyers some of whom have taken advantage of the situation to pay disgraceful sub-market prices to farmers who have nowhere else to turn.

Tim Farron has today submitted an Early Day Motion to Parliament calling for the £20million unpaid milk cheques for May to be underwritten by the government and for action to tackle buyers who seek to exploit stricken farmers by offering below market prices. Mr Farron has also thrown his weight behind the Farmers Guardian petition which urges the dairy industry biggest customers to both buy British and ensure that dairy farmers receive a fair return for their produce.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"The collapse of Dairy Farmers of Britain is a tragedy for our dairy sector and could leave 1800 dairy farmers with no buyers for their product that would cause a catastrophe in milk prices.

"I'm appalled at the behaviour of HSBC, whose deliberate decision to call in their loans to maximise the benefits for their creditors has left the members of Dairy Farmers of Britain without May's milk cheques.

"The government has the power to step in and underwrite the payments that Dairy Farmers of Britain were due to pay dairy farmers this May - they must do so right away.

"It's important that there is now a transparent and stable pricing mechanism for milk to ensure this type of crisis doesn't happen again. It's about time that the Government understood this and pressed on with plans to bring fair trade for British farmers and a fair deal for the consumer by introducing an Independent Supermarket Regulator."