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Successful Parliamentary Dairy Farming Delegation to Brussels
04/04/07

This week a delegation of seven MPs went to Brussels where they met with the Agricultural Commissioner Marianne Fischer Boel, as well as Members of the European Parliament and the British Agricultural Bureau.

A British delegation meets EU Agricultural Commissioner Marianne Fischer Boel: (left to right) Nadine Dorries MP (Mid Bedfordshire), Stephen Crabb MP (Preseli, Pembrokeshire), Nick Everington (Chairman of Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers), Marianne Fischer Boel, Daniel Kawczynski MP (Shrewsbury & Atcham), Rev Dr William McCrea MP (South Antrim) and Roger Williams MP (Brecon & Radnorshire)

British delegation
The delegation, comprising members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dairy Farming, chaired by Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski, took the decision to visit the Commissioner after the lack of response to problems facing the dairy industry by the Government in London. The issues raised concerned the price of milk paid to farmers, bovine tuberculosis and the scandal surrounding the Single Farm Payment scheme.

The MPs, who included representatives from three different political parties, heard the EU Agriculture Commissioner strongly criticise the British Secretary of State, David Miliband, for his inability to accept that the UK dairy industry is part of a global market. She suggested that the current UK competition rules are focused too strongly on a British market and not on the European and international markets, which directly affects the ability of our farmers to be competitive.

The delegation was told by the Commissioner that it is up to the industry to reform itself, but that she does recognise the restrictions put in place by the British Government - restrictions that are different throughout Europe. The main focus was that there is a difficulty in addressing the call for many small cooperatives and businesses to merge, which would allow them the power to ask for a higher milk price against supermarket giants such as Tesco's and Sainsbury's.

Over the chaotic Single Farm payment scheme, the Commissioner was quick to defend the need to impose fines on the British Government, as other countries have also been fined for varying reasons. She did, however, point out that it was her office which forced Mr Milliband, the British Secretary of State, to abide by the dates set out in the agreement, a fact which has led to the fines, but will ensure farmers will receive compensation for the lateness of their payments.

Mr Kawczynski commented, “we have met with many European politicians today, all of whom have recognised the crisis in the British Dairy industry. However we have been told that it is only in Britain that there are such problems and that it is well known through the world that we have some of the most powerful retailers, who can dominate and control the price they pay to farmers, rather than demand being the market force.”

Continuing, he said, “if we cannot regulate the price of milk, or the power of the supermarkets, we have to follow the Danish model and allow the coops and dairy companies to consolidate in order to have a power comparable to the supermarkets and thus demand the fair price for milk.”

link All Party Group Welcomes Tesco Milk Price Rise
link Semex's Solution to Finding the Perfect Mate
link New Breed UK Introduces Dairy Fertility Programme

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