The level of discounting in supermarkets is crippling this industry: Ian O’Reilly
Farmers Guardian 11.3.11 – the unedited version
Emma Penny has hit the nail on the head in last week’s editorial. The level of discounting in supermarkets is crippling this industry with more people than ever exiting and fewer wanting to follow their family into farming.
The decimation of the dairy sector from 38000 dairy farms in 1995 to just over 16000 with the continuing loss of 2 per day on average must surely send a clear message to the retailers that prices at farm-gate across the industry must rise significantly to slow or halt the exodus.
All sectors of the industry are being hard hit with little or no profit to invest in a secure future. As yet another pig unit closes, this time in Scotland, we are told that the British Retail Consortium is supporting UK producers – I have a pile of what they are spouting awaiting spreading!
The truth is the retailers can import these products cheaper but they are not be produced on a level playing field, and whilst the majority of Europe is allowed to produce food at lower than legal UK standards, we (rightly so) toe the welfare line very well indeed. If the consumer could see the conditions in Sow stalls I remain convinced that most would not buy the product.
Is it not high time that we had a fair crack of the whip and had some protection with minimum prices set above the cost of production. We will continue to produce high quality food but the retailers must be prepared to source more products from the UK even if they are marginally higher in price. The consumer must be prepared to pay a little more for the food produced here, we are after all one of the cheapest places in the developed world for food and unless we pay a little more now we will become heavily reliant on imports which could prove to be very dangerous where prices are concerned.
Give us our ombudsman and give it the power to protect one of the last great industries left in the UK, give us transparent labelling stating clear origins that the consumer can readily identify and let’s have the retailers surrender some of that margin so that we may see many future generations enjoy some security.
Lower Gazegill Farm