From a press release issued on July 20th by Sir Eric Howells, a Pembrokeshire dairy farmer
This is the last call for the farmers and they must decide to make a stand if they want to enjoy a reasonable price to retain a fair living for their labours and investment. The answer is simple if they dither, the answer is No. If they are prepared to stand up and be counted the answer is Yes.
Words have achieved nothing
During the past forty years we have listened to many and I must admit strong good speeches by farmers’ leaders and others about the importance of maintaining fair producer milk price to allow farmers not only to enjoy a reasonable standard of living, but also to have money to invest in their business. We have seen demonstrations, blockades, withholding milk etc and none of these exercises have achieved anything except add to the farmers cost and alienating those we want on our side, the consumer.
The only way forward?
While I respect the effort of those over the years that have tried so hard without any positive results and I maintain the only way forward is:-
1. Put pressure on the government to take the monopoly powers away from the supermarkets. The power of marketing must remain in the hands of the producer as is happening with all our major manufacturing industries.
2. Secure the full cooperation of the processors. Those that will not cooperate should be boycotted.
3. Take over empty shops or share premises with others to sell milk and milk products direct to the housewife at a fair price, say 7 pence per litre cheaper than the present supermarket price who are enjoying a 15 pence margin.
4. Offer milk to the supermarkets at a price that allows the producer and processors a fair margin. This without any negotiation and on the basis of “take it or leave it”. If they never sell milk again it will be their loss and not the producer provided we secure sufficient outlets in every town. Sell milk when you can, but do not give it away.
5. Employ an agency to put the above in motion quickly. It will not be so difficult to organise as it appears at first.
6. Please note nothing has worked before and this is the last chance to save this great and efficient industry of ours. Remember 2.5% of the working population work on the land, but 18% of the working population depend on agriculture for a living.
7. Hold the minimum of meetings as what we need is action, action, action and not stop until we have a positive and lasting result (£). We need not be afraid of imports, but if this becomes a problem then that is stage two.
9. Please note that on present day figures it takes about £7,000 investment per cow to set up a dairy farm and the producer has to use his own capital or borrow from the bank. The supermarket has the milk delivered in the morning and it has gone through the till in the afternoon and they do not pay the supplier for up to ninety days. This credit they use for expansion.