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 Full text 
Thursday, 14 June 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

European milk producers (debate)

  John Stuart Agnew, on behalf of the EFD Group. Mr President, the UK diary sector is unique: cooperatives are less important than elsewhere and we have traditionally consumed much more fresh milk. A few years ago I would have added that we alone have doorstep delivery, but that has declined in a decade from nearly half the market to just 5 %. It has been killed by the supermarkets and that is because the British supermarket chains form a complex oligopoly so powerful that it is impossible for suppliers to negotiate as equals. They use their market power to relentlessly dominate and take a greater share of the value.

The milk package was a chance to address this. I am not getting at Jim Nicholson, but it cannot work, because the most important element is missing from it. The whole supply chain from farm to jug is what counts and if the retailers are excluded from this you may as well not bother. What can British farmers do now? They must use the Ombudsman to best effect: to challenge supermarket power; and they must not assume that relentless expansion in cow numbers is the way ahead.

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