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Fairtrade responds to concerns raised about milk prices

As MPs on the Commons Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee call for the remit of the groceries watchdog to be extended so that dairy farmers can be protected from sharply falling milk prices, Barbara Crowther, Director of Policy & Public Affairs at the Fairtrade Foundation, said:

"The concern about low prices being paid to dairy farmers in the UK parallels Fairtrade’s concern about low prices being paid to farmers in the developing world who grow the bananas, cocoa, coffee and other commodities we consume on a daily basis. Paying farmers less than it costs to produce their goods is just not sustainable. As well as affecting farmers’ livelihoods, it could ultimately mean the foods we enjoy become unavailable or unaffordable in the much longer term.

“For some time, Fairtrade has been calling for the remit of the groceries watchdog – the Grocery Code Adjudicator – to be extended and strengthened, so that it can ensure that all suppliers to the big retailers, including those that are further down the supply chain, are being treated lawfully and fairly.

"The issue here, as highlighted in a recent Fair Trade report[1], is the imbalance of power in agricultural supply chains. Some actors within the supply chain – traders, manufacturers and retailers – wield a huge amount of power and take the lion’s share of value, leaving little for the farmers themselves.

“It’s time there was greater transparency on the distribution of value in supply chains – for milk, bananas and other products. We’ve asked the Government to launch a market investigation into the impact of ongoing grocery price wars on the sustainability of banana farming. This latest crisis in the UK dairy sector is further evidence of a need for more systemic change, tackling the unfair trading practices that continue to squeeze farmers out of business both here and abroad.”

[1] ‘Who's got the power? Tackling imbalances in agricultural supply chains' was commissioned by Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Traidcraft, Plate-Forme pour le Commerce Équitable and Fairtrade Deutschland, in partnership with Fairtrade International and World Fair Trade Organization, and produced by BASIC (Bureau d'Analyse Sociétale).