Courtesy of the Bridport and Lyme Regis News
5:36pm Thursday 27th August 2015
By Rene Gerryts
THIS year's Melplash Show was a window into rural life in west Dorset when farmers showcased their produce.
But behind the attractions the reality for farmers is a difficult one, says West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin.
He, with National Farmers’ Union president Guy Smith, says the agricultural industry, particularly dairy farmers, are facing great difficulties.
Mr Letwin, who is an annual visitor to the show, said: “I will no doubt very considerable amount of discussion with the NFU people when I meet them today about dairy prices and the effect on farmers.
“I will be talking to them about a whole range of possible of ways of helping, I think in the medium term what is needed most, and I hope we can get this ball rolling at the EU level, is some kind of proper futures market so there is a means of smoothing prices so we don’t get these very sudden gyration’s for local farmers which are very, very difficult for them to deal with.
“There are significant problems for west Dorset farmers at the moment that is definitely the case. I am in regular contact with a wide range of farmers and there is no doubt at all that the diary sector is having a very difficult time.
“Ultimately you can’t expect to manage the world milk prices but you can try to provide some kind of greater stability for farmers and also greater transparency.
“The show is a great way of doing several different things at once. It provides a forum for discussions and it brings the wider public into closer contact with agricultural which I think is extraordinarily important.”
Mr Letwin said it was crucial that people know that agricultural is a critical part of rural and national life.
Guy Smith said: “I am a real fan of these medium size shows. They celebrate rural life and agriculture for farmers they are a very important shop window that show cases agriculture and rural life to a non farming audience.
“If you remind people that milk is whole food it is nutritional wholesome food and you associate it with the green grass of Dorset then that all helps remind people that when it comes to milk it is worth paying a little bit more for it.
“It is wrong for supermarkets to use it as a knock down price loss leader and they shouldn’t do it, because it is disrespectful to diary farmers who go out of their way to produce a high-value nutritional produce and look after the landscape.
“We need politicians to be mindful of the fact that we are importing more food into this country and one reason for that is bad regulation and regulators should be mindful of that.