UK: Farming Minister Jim Paice to speak on dairy issues

Farming minister Jim Paice is expected to reassert the Government’s backing for dairy farmers when he opens a major agricultural event today.

Mr Paice, who lives close to the Cambridgeshire/Suffolk border, will officially open Livestock 2012 in Birmingham with a keynote speech in which he will highlight the government’s intention to encourage more farmers to set up ‘producer organisations’.

Such groups aim to see farmers join together to collectively market and negotiate a price for their produce, with the aim of strengthening farmers’ bargaining position.

Mr Paice’s department recently announced �5m to support farmers to do this, though it remains unclear how they will apply for it.

The speech comes after a summer which saw dairy farmers protesting against supermarkets and food manufacturers which had cut the price of milk so low that for some farmers it had fallen below the cost of production.

Several supermarkets have since increased the shelf price of milk in their stores in response to the protests, meanwhile food manufacturers have agreed a voluntary code of conduct to guide business deals with farmers.