Time for Fairtrade Milk? Newsflash from Fairtrade Foundation

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You can’t have missed UK dairy farmers in the news recently campaigning for fairer prices for their milk. It’s raised the question of why Fairtrade can’t begin at home and why the mark can’t be put on milk too? It’s a fair question – one that’s been debated many times – so, following our new blog about it, we thought we’d share our response with you.

British dairy farmers aren’t alone in their plea for fairer treatment. It’s the refrain of farmers around the world who grow many of the everyday products we enjoy, from cocoa to tea to bananas. Fairtrade was born from the needs of these farmers and workers in developing countries who often earn less than US$2 per day. They live on the absolute poverty line in countries with little or no social safety net, and are far removed from the markets they sell to.

UK dairy farmers are able to take their protests into supermarkets, lobby their MPs directly or have their voice heard through farmers’ unions. The farmers and farm workers we represent have not got this access  ̶  they rely on Fairtrade and its partners to be their voice, and lobby on their behalf.

In short, we’re 100 percent behind the concept of fair trade milk, but we’re not necessarily the right organisation to invest in the work that would be required to set up such a scheme here at home, which we believe would also need to deliver against sustainable agricultural practices and high animal welfare standards too. 

But we still believe all farmers and workers wherever they are should get paid a fair price that covers their costs of production. The situation faced by dairy farmers is the same for banana farmers and is fuelled by the same thing – supermarkets pushing down prices with their price wars. This is why we launched our campaign to Make Bananas Fair last year. Without more transparency in supply chains, it is difficult to analyse where the real problems in delivering fair prices to farmers really lie.

We support dairy farmers in their struggle and so do banana farmers. Foncho, the face of our Make Bananas Fair campaign, had this message for them:

We support dairy farmers in their struggle and so do banana farmers. Foncho, the face of our Make Bananas Fair campaign, had this message for them:

‘I support UK dairy farmers in their fight for fair prices.  I too have been at the mercy of UK supermarket price wars, receiving poor prices for my bananas. Whether its bananas or milk, no farmer should have to sell their produce below the cost of sustainable production.  That’s why the protection Fairtrade provides me with is vital. I wish the dairy farmers success in their campaign.’  Foncho, Colombian Banana Farmer

You can read our thoughts in more detail over on our blog including what we think the Government should be doing to intervene.

source; Fairtrade Org UK (August 2015)

Author: David Wiggs

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