Supermarkets should be boycotted over milk prices, says Shropshire councillor
Supermarkets should be boycotted until farmers are paid a fair price for their milk, a Shropshire councillor said.
Charlotte Barnes has encouraged people not to buy milk from stores that fail to pay a fair price to local farmers.
She said: "In this age of consumer power we can take direct action and buy instead from local shops or at least supermarkets who pay a decent amount. Supermarkets are very sensitive to popular pressure."
It was revealed last week that the price of milk has fallen to the lowest in seven years at just 22p a pint.
Asda, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland are selling four pints of milk for just 89p, while Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose are charging £1.
But retailers insist they are funding the cost of the price reduction from their own profits and that the price farms receive will stay above the cost of production.
Farmers faced fresh hits at the start of the year when dairy firm First Milk announced it would be paying farmers up to two weeks late to put its own finances in order.
And Market Drayton-based Muller Wiseman announced it would be freezing the price it pays to farmers at 25.90 pence per litre after months of cuts.
Councillor Barnes, of Bishops Castle, said: "The long term problem has been the supermarket's strangle-hold on prices – this is what has pushed our dairy industry into long term decline.
"It's clear from the research that prices paid vary widely with some paying particularly low sums to farmers."
Councillor Barnes has echoed concerns from MPs who have blamed supermarkets, supply and demand and national regulations for the ongoing crisis.
She has called for support from other organisations and has suggested using the Fairtrade Mark on British produce.
She said: "The Fairtrade Foundation currently works to support farmers in the developing world to ensure that producers in those countries get a fair price for their products, but there is clearly a need to do exactly the same at home in the UK.
"As a country, we should concentrate on food security and be able to feed ourselves. I really believe a Fairtrade milk scheme would be an effective way to ensure that the farmers are protected.
"The consumer would know at a glance that he or she is supporting British farming when shopping for milk or milk products."
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