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Lib Dem Mick Bates slams WAG blindness to DFB crash

June 10, 2009 1:15 PM

Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, Mick Bates AM, has criticised the Welsh Government for their lack of intelligence over the Dairy Farmers of Britain crash and is calling for more support for farmers in rural areas who may be left at a disadvantage as the co-operative enters receivership.

Commenting on a statement by the Minister for Rural Affairs on the Dairy Farmers of Britain Mick stated:

"I am deeply concerned over the level of intelligence received by the Welsh Government on the state of the dairy sector in Wales. Since New Year the dairy industry in Wales has been on its knees as we saw First Milk, Wiseman and Dairy Crest all cutting the price they pay to farmers and on many occasions in the Chamber and by letter I raised my concerns over the future of the industry, only to be told by Government Ministers that it was in 'robust health'.

"It is vital that the Welsh Government learns from this and takes heed of warnings from the industry and colleagues so that the dairy sector in Wales does not face further collapse in the future.

"Ensuring viability and sustainability for Welsh co-operative farmers who put their faith in the Dairy Farmers of Britain is now crucial. Farmers are worried about their milk cheque and need reassurance that the industry will remain profitable and that they will be able to recover any money lost from this crash.

"I am particularly concerned that farmers in rural areas will be at a disadvantage compared to those in more urban areas. It is clearly less commercially viable to collect milk from more remote areas where there is not the same level of milk production, so farmers in rural areas may not receive such a fair price for their produce. The Minister must discuss this issue with the industry to ensure that farmers are not faced with this situation and can continue to see a demand for their milk.

"Producers rely heavily on the loyalty of supermarkets within the dairy chain and the withdrawal of business by the Co-operative and now Tesco was clearly a devastating blow to Dairy Farmers of Britain. There is strong support for a supermarket ombudsman but what we need now is to encourage supermarkets to stick with co-operatives and small businesses as they work through this difficult economic time, so that we can continue to see benefits passed on to our local farmers, employees and local communities."