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Jamie and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have added strong words of support to dairy farmers for their ongoing pricing war between with the retail industry.

Dairy farmers are protesting at the low price being paid for a litre of milk by suppliers, due to pressure from retailers. It means, according to Farmers for Action (FFA), that it costs farmers 29p to produce a litre of milk while they're only getting paid 25p per litre.

In an open letter to The Times yesterday, Jamie and Hugh said that not only is this threatening the British dairy industry and the workers and families they support, but the whole of the British landscape.

Here is the letter in full:

Sir,

It is shocking that many dairy farmers are to be paid less for their milk than it costs to produce it.

Dairy farming in this country is fast becoming unviable.
Milk is a brilliant food but we have lost all sight of its value. We pay more for bottled water than we do for milk – yet water bubbles out of the ground, while milk comes from livestock which need our care.

How mad is that?
Dairy farmers can't take industrial action. Their daily commitment to their herd makes it impossible.

How cynical of retailers to take advantage of this.
If the dairy industry expires, or becomes super-industrialised, it's not just thousands of family businesses that will go to the wall.
Our whole landscape is threatened.
All over Britain the patchwork of hedgerows and grass fields owes its existence to the traditional production of milk.
It's time supermarkets stopped using milk as a loss leader.

And if they won't take initiative, then perhaps consumers will consider moving their custom from those who offer milk at crazy knockdown prices to those who will commit to giving dairy farmers a fairer deal.
We're delighted to see the WI is already campaigning for such action, and we urge everyone who drinks milk (that's pretty much all of us, of course) to do the same.

HUGH FEARNLEY-WHITTINGSTALL
River Cottage, Axminster, Devon.
JAMIE OLIVER
Fifteen, Watergate Bay, Cornwall.


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