Environment minister Elizabeth Truss has said she will take the fight for better milk prices for farmers to Europe.
She was speaking after a meeting with representatives of the dairy industry following protests at the low price being paid by supermarkets at present.
The MP for South West Norfolk said, “I convened today’s meeting to work to help our farmers through the current tough period. It was an encouraging meeting and I believe we can help build stronger foundations that give the industry the long-term stability and commercial opportunities it needs to manage global volatility.
“I recognise the seriousness of the current situation for the dairy industry and for farming as a whole. Our hard working farmers and the £100billion food and farming industry are vital for our economy and our countryside.
“A global surplus of milk is causing low prices around the world –well beyond the control of farmers. I want to see this situation taken seriously by the EU who have the means to help farmers manage this volatility and build resilience. That is why when I meet agriculture ministers next month I will be emphasising the need for a futures market and insurance for dairy products - as they already have for cereal farmers - to give them long-term security over price.
“It is in everyone’s interest that supermarkets, caterers and the food industry have a security of supply of milk. That’s why I am pleased to see some supermarkets share the risk with farmers over price fluctuations. We are urgently setting up a new working group with the UK farming ministers and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board to develop best practice models with the industry.
“As well as milk, more than 50 per cent of the UK dairy market is in products such as cheese and butter. Yet we have a dairy deficit as less than half the butter and cheese we eat is made from British milk. I want to see better branding and clearer labelling of dairy products in supermarkets, retailers and throughout the catering industry so that people know when they are buying British, and we have agreed to have further discussions with the food industry on this.
“Dairy exports topped £1.4billion last year but I am determined to see this rise even more. I have invited the dairy industry to play a bigger role in future trade missions, including my trip to China in the autumn where there is growing demand for quality British produce.”