When was the last time you saw an automotive component supplier blockading a motor manufacturer? Or angry component supplier executives drenching themselves in brake fluid? I’d be astonished if you said anything other than “Never”.
But what sounds bizarre in a motor industry context has become a regular occurrence in the grocery market over the past few weeks where farmers have blockaded distribution centres, taken cows into stores, and bathed in milk in protest as the price they are getting for their milk from some supermarkets.
Not surprisingly the National Farmers Union is telling the government that the supply chain is not working and that urgent measures are required to address the immediate farming crisis.
In a statement following a meeting with government ministers earlier this week the four UK farming union presidents said: “We cannot allow the meltdown in the farming industry to continue. The Secretary of State and the devolved agricultural ministers have today acknowledged the threats facing the farming industry and the need for urgent action.”
There have been moves to respond to the farmers’ plight – a number of supermarkets last week agreed to pay more for their milk. Asda, for example, has committed to a price of 28p per litre.
However, farmers say that the production cost is 30-32p a litre and they want more. They are calling for clearer country of origin labelling; clarity on sourcing policies; better, more consistent promotion of British food and, from the government, delivery of its public procurement food policy.
Some of these issues can only be dealt with at EU level and the NFU said it has an agreement from farm ministers that they will present a united position representing all UK farmers at the emergency meeting in Brussels on 7th September.
Whether this meeting can come up with an adequate response to the problems of global over-production in this critical supply chain remains to be seen.