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MP WINS CROSS-PARTY SUPPORT IN CAMPAIGN, AS DAIRY FARMERS CONTINUE TO EXPERIENCE HARDSHIP

June 16, 2009 12:00 AM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron's motion calling on the government to step in and pay dairy farmers who were members of Dairy Farmers of Britain (DFB) their May milk cheques has won cross party support.

Thirty MPs have now signed Mr Farron's motion which calls on the Government to either pay the unpaid milk cheques for May, or else force the banks to step in and pay. The banks called in their loans to DFB on 3 June causing the farmer-run co-op to collapse.

Mr Farron has spoken to local dairy farmers many of whom are now in a desperate situation. The farming minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP last night assured Mr Farron that 1400 of the 1800 members of DFB had secured new buyers, but that 400 had not. Of those who are still forced to sell their milk through PriceWaterhouseCoopers - the official receivers of Dairy Farmers of Britain - Mr Farron is aware of some farmers who have been forced to take just 10p per litre when the cost price would be around 24p per litre. Other farmers who were given verbal assurances of a contract with First Milk have found that no written contract was forthcoming.

It would appear that those farmers who have small herds and who are based in inaccessible and very rural locations are having extreme difficulty in finding new buyers.

Mr Farron said, "We are seeing some dairy farmers facing the end of the line. The government was swift to bail out the bankers in the city, why can't they move quickly and prevent the collapse of many small dairy farms in Cumbria? We have cross-party support for my proposal to intervene and help the dairy industry. It is vital that government intervenes now to prevent extreme hardship and a further loss of capacity in the industry."