HC Deb 19 May 2004 vol 421 c979W
Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what dates the Dairy Supply Chain Forum met in the last year to discuss farmgate milk prices; what representations she has received regarding the price of milk received by farmers; what steps she is taking to increase the percentage that farmers receive; and if she will make a statement. [172988]

Alun Michael

The Dairy Supply Chain Forum, which is chaired by my noble Friend, the Lord Whitty, provides a framework in which all links in the dairy supply chain can come together to discuss the challenges facing the sector and develop collaborative solutions to improve the efficiency and promote the sustainable development of the sector. It does not discuss price negotiations, which are a private commercial matter between farmers and purchasers. However, the work of the Forum and its various subgroups should help address some of the underlying causes of low farmgate prices. In the last year the main Forum met on 7 July, 20 October and 28 January. In addition, its sub-groups meet frequently to take forward individual work streams.

As well as participating in the Forum and its subgroups, Defra has made a grant of £0.5 million to the Food Chain Centre to undertake a value chain analysis in the dairy sector. This will examine a number of different supply chains to find ways in which efficiency can be increased, improving the returns to all participants in those chains.

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