Milk, fruit and vegetables will eventually be imported, unless British food producers are fairly paid
The FT reports that Asda also justified the low prices paid to farmers saying they were set by global supply and demand.
First Milk, the farmer-owned group, one of the UK’s biggest dairy co-operatives, has suspended payments to around 1,200 farmers for two weeks. The company said that returns had fallen 50% in the past year and yet – the FT reports – farm costs are 36% higher than they were in 2007 and the single largest cost component of a dairy farm, animal feed, is more than 50% higher.
A table from an 2007 overview: Snapshot of farming in the UK, on the BBC website (below), will be of interest to readers news to the subject. Recent price cuts mean that farmers are facing milk prices of just 20p a litre, the lowest since 2007 according to the NFU said, but the following graph indicates an earlier date.
‘Fiddling while Rome burns’, DEFRA promotes involvement with the volatile global casino: “It is important to remember that the long-term prospects are bright with exports at record levels.”
Is there any future for those who produce perishable food and are currently held to ransom – unless they join forces and demand prices covering production costs?
Cornish beef farmer Michael Hart asks: “Does anyone know why the Irish did DNA tests in first place, as I understand it is not routine policy?”
There was a ‘local’ whistleblower to thank for initiating this investigation
Ireland was the first EU state to carry out tests on the presence of horse meat in beef and make public the results. It was claimed that the initial investigation had been started due to a tip off from a whistle-blower from within the meat industry, but that has been denied by the FSAI, though later admitted by DEFRA secretary of state Owen Paterson.
‘The Grocer’ reports that, speaking in the House of Commons on the 11th February, Owen Paterson said: ‘The reason the Irish agency picked up this issue in the Irish plant was that it had local intelligence that there was a problem” . . . in other words someone did blow the whistle.
It was also reported in the FT that a former official said he helped draft a letter to the environment department (Defra), in April 2011. It warned that horsemeat could get into the food chain because of weaknesses in the passport scheme designed to prevent contamination by the anti-inflammatory drug known as bute.
The report adds: “UK food regulators have launched internal inquiries into claims that ministers were alerted over a year ago to the dangers of illegal horsemeat getting into the food chain”.
Several British farmers have contrasted the strict regime under which they have to operate with the apparently lax procedures of retailers and processors
The minister, the chief medical officer and some veterinary scientists have downplayed the health risk of bute to humans – generally failing to mention that the danger is of accumulation, rather than a single ‘dose’.
Michael Hart sent this picture of a sachet of bute medication (not clear because of reflective foil cover) which carried instructions which he felt indicated that bute accumulates to some extent in the body.
He asked: “Why am I as a farmer jumping through lots of hoops on traceability of sheep, pigs and cattle when clearly retailers and processors don’t really care about it, otherwise they would have found out a lot earlier than they did”.