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MP speaks out during dairy debate in Westminster

February 4, 2015 3:10 PM

TF ruralSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has today used a parliamentary debate to lay out his solutions to the crisis facing the dairy industry.

The debate, held in Westminster Hall, was packed with rural MPs who were keen to stand up for rural communities. One of the MPs who gave a speech in the debate was Tim. He used the speech to call for a series of policy measures that he felt could help dairy farmers and rural communities:

  • Giving the Grocery Code Adjudicator the power to look at indirect relationships, and monopoly power of processors as well as supermarkets
  • Putting the Dairy Code of Practice on a statutory footing
  • Fair Trade for UK farmers alongside fair trade for farmers from overseas

Tim also sought to undermine the notion that milk is used as a 'loss leader' by supermarkets. He pointed out that supermarkets don't make a loss on milk, indeed they make a profit of up to 50% on a litre of milk and so they can afford to pay fairer prices to farmers. Tim also pointed out how the supermarkets are acting against their own interests by putting those dairy farms out of business. He used the famous quote of JM Keynes that "the market can remain illogical longer than you can remain solvent".

Last week it was announced that measures to grant the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) powers to fine UK supermarkets have been laid in Parliament. Tim has welcomed this but said that we must do more.

Tim said: "We have a lopsided, counterproductive, unfair, unfree market that hurts farmers and producers. We must do more to help them. Farmers are not asking for special treatment, they are asking for a level playing field. I hope that we build on last week's announcement about the Groceries Code Adjudicator being able to fine supermarkets but we must do more. We need fair trade for farmers - be they from Columbia or Cumbria."

The transcript of the Dairy Industry debate can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/173/