Ribble Valley is a rural constituency where agriculture plays an important part in the local economy, not only providing jobs but also continuing tradional communities where some families have farmed the same land for hundreds of years. It is vital that our area has an experience campaigner who supports rural communities and dairy farms are right at the heart of this.
With the number of dairy farms in the UK falling below 10,000 for the first time, the industry is at crisis point. Therefore I recently secured a debate on the future of the dairy industry in Parliament to highlight this problem and to urge the Government to do all it can to support dairy farms. In this debate I put forward a 12 point plan for the future of the industry, which I hope the Government will get behind.
1. The Groceries Code Adjudicator to be given more powers to protect dairy farmers.
2. A strengthened Groceries Supply Code of Practice.
3. Supermarkets and wholesalers who pay less than the cost of production for milk should be named and shamed. They have Fairtrade coffee, chocolate and bananas, this should extend to Fairtrade UK milk and dairy processed products.
4. Farmers need to be given more assistance in accessing a variety export markets.
5. Banks should provide support to dairy farmers during this challenging time for the industry.
6. HM Revenue & Customs should move to look at profits over a five year period to provide a more level rate of taxation.
7. The EU intervention price of 15 pence per litre needs to be urgently reviewed as it is no longer an accurate figure and is far too low.
8. Better and clearer origin of production labelling. British means produced and processed in the UK.
9. More stability on investment allowances for farmers.
10. Ensure that dairy farming is supported and championed by the Government. Dairy farms are the backbone of rural Britain and it must be sufficiently attractive for new generations of young farmers to enter the industry.
11. Look to encourage producer organisations within the industry to give better protection on product price.
12. Look to cushion the worst impacts of the volatility within the industry.
I will continue to fight to a fair deal for farmers.