[A]s the dairy industry continues in a perilous state, with many farmers being paid less than the cost of production, regional retailer Booths marked two years of Fair Milk scheme with a review of the impact of the scheme on both farmers and customers.
The pioneering Fair Milk scheme pledges to pay the highest market price to farmers, ensuring farmers receive a fair price for their milk, covering the cost of production and enabling them to invest in a stable, profitable future as a result.
Customer research carried out by independently audited ABA* indicated 93% percent of Booths shoppers supported the ethos of Fair Milk and would continue to buy milk that paid a fair price to farmers, even if that meant paying more for milk. 66% percent of shoppers said that the fair price paid to farmers on Booths milk was their most important consideration on purchase.
CEO Chris Dee said, “I’m gratified, but not surprised by the support of our customers for Fair Milk. Paying farmers a fair price for milk is as important to us as a business as it is to our customers. We trade in rural locales and our farmers are often our customers, giving a fair deal is core to our buying ethos.”
The two year impact on the family farms producing milk for Booths has been staggering. The fair price paid to farmers has enabled all the farms supplying Booths to make significant capital investments to their farms, improving livestock conditions and working conditions for the farmers. This is in stark contrast to the farming industry as a whole, where recent research by the Prince’s Countryside Fund reported 1 in 5 farmers were facing severe financial hardship.
The UK now has fewer than 10,000 dairy farmers, less than half the number in 2002. It’s the smallest number in living memory.
Roger Mason from Heaves Farm, Kendal in Cumbria said, “Put simply, Fair Milk has allowed us to invest in the future. Most dairy farmers are subject to volatile and punishing price drops which make maintaining and developing their farms very difficult; farmers get behind very quickly and it takes years to catch up.”
“We’re very fortunate that Fair Milk has allowed us to invest significantly, in technologies which have streamlined our efficiency and greatly improved our cows’ welfare, from a responsive cow collar system, to LED lighting in our sheds to give the herd consistent light in the winter months. Booths has set a brilliant precedent for supporting local farmers and it has transformed our farm’s fortunes.”
“We made a permanent decision to commit to paying our farmers a fair price. Booths stand by their promise and commit to paying the highest farm gate price for milk in the market. It’s the right thing for our customers and farmers.” says Dee.