Plaid Cymru demands action to safeguard Welsh dairy industry


Party calls for package of measures to halt the decline of the dairy industry

Plaid Cymru is calling on the Labour Welsh government for action to protect Welsh dairy farmers. Figures show that the number of dairy farmers in Wales has fallen by over half (51.3%) since 1999 and Plaid Cymru wants to see the government act to halt this decline.

Plaid wants the Welsh Government to develop a set of measures to protect dairy farmers from unfair commercial practices, allowing them to obtain a fair price for their produce.

In a debate in the Senedd on Wednesday, Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs Spokesperson Llyr Huws Gruffydd will call on the Welsh Government to produce a dairy action plan to tackle widespread unfair commercial practices within the supply chain. This includes providing a baseline standard raw milk contract, an enforceable code of practice between farmers and dairy companies and the publication of transparent information on the distribution of margins and wholesale prices.

Llyr Huws Gruffydd said:

"Welsh farmers' milk is being sold on average 4ppl below its worth or below its cost to produce. That's an estimated £65 million lost to the Welsh dairy sector every year. Welsh farmers often find themselves having to accept unfair or unclear contracts which require them to sell all their milk to just one buyer and allows that buyer to change the price they pay for the milk with little or no notice. These contracts also lock farmers in for long periods without any exit clauses.

"Earning a living from producing milk under such circumstances becomes a near impossible task."

Figures obtained by Plaid Cymru reveal that proposed changes to the Common Agriculture Policy could see the support to more than a third of all Welsh farmers being reduced by at least 10% - an extra blow to farmers who are already facing difficult conditions, exploitative contracts and tight margins on their operation.

Llyr Huws Gruffydd added:

“Welsh dairy farmers face some of the toughest market conditions around. They are being forced to sell their milk up to 4 pence per litre below its production cost, and are being forced into unfair contracts. On top of this, we see up to 700 cattle a month slaughtered prematurely in Wales due to TB with a significant proportion of these dairy cattle in the prime of their productive lives. The Welsh rural economy is at stake and we need Labour to act to protect jobs, businesses and communities.

“The UK Conservative Lib Dem Government’s proposed ‘supermarket ombudsman’ will do little to protect Welsh farmers. Plaid Cymru is hugely disappointed that this ombudsman will not have the power to properly penalise offending businesses, but instead will simply have the ability to ‘name and shame’ them. The problem is that we already know who the offenders are – what we need is an effective and powerful ombudsman, and not a toothless adjudicator.

“In Wales we want the Labour Government to take decisive action to protect our dairy farmers from such exploitation. We are a major European milk producer and the dairy sector is a hugely important industry to Wales providing hundreds of jobs in our rural communities. It’s an industry of which we are proud and it's time action is taken to protect it.”