Nigel led a debate in Parliament on the future of the dairy industry on Wednesday 04 February, which has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks with falling milk prices and a supermarket price war.
Speaking in the debate Mr Evans said, “This is a time of deep uncertainty for many farmers, as they have seen huge volatility in the price that they receive for milk over the past three years. The dairy industry is vital for the United Kingdom. Whether the cause is Russian sanctions, the reduced Chinese market or simply an over-supply in the market after a very good year last year, the fact is that the price for milk on some farms is now way below the cost of production. I have read around the issue in the Farmers Guardian, and I have read reports about the industry’s plight and I have produced a charter for the British dairy 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.”
Speaking after the debate Mr. Evans said, “I was delighted to be given the opportunity to raise this important issue in Parliament and was pleased to see so many other MPs in attendance. The dairy industry is the backbone of rural Britain and it is vital that it is protected. The future looks positive for the dairy industry, with rising global demand, but dairy farmers in the Ribble Valley need to be able to get to the future and through this difficult time, I hope that this debate helped highlight the issues they face and I am committed to continuing my support for dairy farmers.”