I was going to post just this, because I feel concerned at the increasingly desperate voice of dairy farmers who are now threatening to pour away their milk because they are making a loss all the time:


However, the sceptical comments about what this seems to be saying, on Facebook, and the fact that it appears simplistic, made me want to know a little more.

I was surprised to discover that my dear ole C of E published a report as long ago as 2007 called ‘Fairtrade begins at home – Supermarkets and the effect on
British farming livelihoods’.

Here’s part of their conclusion:

‘Many farmers are producing
goods below cost, which
ultimately results in an
unsustainable business, evident
by the number of farmers going
out of business. This is the reason
for the title of this report “Fairtrade
begins at home”.

There were examples of good
practices from supermarkets,
however ultimately the big four
have such a monopoly over the
food chain that they are able
to squeeze farmers indirectly
through the squeezing of the
middlemen. The margins they are
able to demonstrate are often,
and inevitably, at the expense of
food producers.

Consumers do not appear to
be aware of the full extent of
the supermarkets’ monopoly
and power.
Through their
major marketing machines, the
supermarkets operate very effective
branding and PR which appears to
us to obscure this reality.

In conclusion, farmers are not
asking for special treatment but
there is inequality and dysfunction
within the supply chain requiring
attention. It is evident that this
chain does not operate in a
truly free market, but one that is
dominated by a few large players
that are able to exert exponential
pressure in the imbalance of
power. Without a change to this
imbalance, the UK agriculture
industry will diminish with
profound implications for all.

You can read the full report here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media/36540/fairtrade.pdf

I think they make a very valid point. I am a supporter of Fair Trade, but we clearly need it for this country too.


  1. I have been saying for years that fair trade and fair trading begins at home, and not just as a publicity stunt, or, for a sales gimmick either. The gullible public have been kidded on for so long, they are unable to broadly analyse, nor see, what is fair in selling and trading terms is anymore.

    Where I can, I avoid stuff labelled with ‘fair trade’, because much of it is not. Fair, has a different definition in trading terms to that which we usually understand it to mean. In my view it has become a euphemism for trading, in many instances, in inferior stock sold at high prices, that are not fair to the producers, nor at the other end of the chain, the sales staff, or customers. It is wonderfully fair to the retailers in obtaining much higher profit margins by unfair practices.


  2. I’m happy to pay more for my milk to keep the farmer’s livelihoods afloat but if we voted with our wallets by not purchasing supermarket milk, then this would surely hurt the farmers.


    1. It gets very complicated. More and more I wonder whether, one of these days, the supermarket thing will collapse and we will all be back to buying local and growing our own!


  3. I was listening to the farmers talking on the radio and am 100% beHind them. I think its ridiculous to expect them to work for next to nothing . . . Yes fair trade should begin at home .:yes:


  4. It is well known that the supermarkets are squeezing their producers till the pips squeak and keeping all the profits for themselves. I heard an interview with one of the dairy farmers on the radio yesterday.
    Sad state of affairs


  5. This is very sad. We’ve been having similar problems here in Israel since the country moved from socialism to ‘free market’. It turns out that the big chains of supermarkets really know how to manipulate the free market.


  6. My brother used to be a dairy farmer with a herd of pedigree fresians. A few years back they were hit with ‘milk quotas’ and could only sell so much milk (try telling that to the poor cows!!!). They were faced with either throwing it all away or diversifying. My sister-in-law started producing yoghurt which worked well for a while but was hard work for very little reward as the big yoghurt suppliers (via the supermarket chains) had the lion’s share of the market.

    They now have a farm shop and nursery along with a herd of beef cattle destined for sale in the farm shop. My brother who spent years becoming a farmer (he started straight from school and is now 68!) is now practically a shop keeper and spends only a small part of his working day actually farming.


      1. Yes … and as a tenant farmer he will have to find somewhere else to live when he reaches retirement. Unless the local council lets him stay in the farmhouse and sell the land! Another huge challenge!


      2. Yes exactly the same :yes:

        UK supermarkets are so very cutthroat. In France there isn’t as much competition and the price of basics such as bread is fixed. I’m not sure how the milk pricing works. I know that food is more expensive over here but noticed ‘silly prices’ in the UK. Not to mention the trend towards ‘BOGOFF’ offers whereby people end up throwing so much food away rather than miss a ‘bargain’. Families and friends should organise co-operatives to get the best out of such deals.


      3. I’ve read your NO MEANS NO post – you tell ’em, Spicey :yes: Some people think they can act anyhow just because we don’t know them |-|


      4. This individual has been a pest from day one and although they only joined 2 months ago have either joined or created 61 group blogs and is forever asking to join more.

        I had to restrict membership to “Our Place” a while back because of this and in the last couple of hours I’ve had 4 or 5 more requests it’s so tiresome. On top of which I prefer open groups (apart from the obvious book writing group).

        Me and others have also been badgered over and over again after turning down friend’s requests to the extent that I’ve had to block PMs from them.

        I wouldn’t mind if we had something in common but we haven’t. This blogger rarely posts anything original and relies almost solely on copy and paste jobs and doesn’t respond to comments made by the few friends already ‘collected’.

        For a while we suspected it might be a spammer trying to set up links and indeed some of their blogfriends and groups are spammers. Either way I don’t want to be drawn into whatever games they’re playing.

        Ooops ….. sorry about the rant!!!! 😳 It takes an awful lot to get me going (honest!!)


  7. My first husband father was a Dairy Farmer and I used to help out with milking and chucking the CHURNS down the end of the drive for collection…oh yes that long ago.

    If we do not support our ENGLISH farmers we shall be having IMPORTED MILK at vastly increased price…the reason….English Farmers are not producing….CRAP….sorry…but it is as always a way of forcing our local BRITISH produce out of the market…

    P xx


    1. I don’t think it’s about forcing our British milk out, but about increasing profits – not too many ethics around!

      Dairy farming is a very hard life, but so is all farming :yes:


  8. We have friends not far away who are milk farmers and it is pretty disgusting what they get paid for a pint of milk. It is they who do all the work and receive some thing like less than 29pence a pint.xx


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