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Farming minister Jim Paice under fire after not knowing price of milk because "wife buys most of it"

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 11, 2012

Farming Minister Jim Paice was criticised for being 'out of touch' after admitting he didn't know the price of milk

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Westcountry dairy farmers have responded with incredulity to the admission by Farming Minister Jim Paice that he did not know the price of milk – because "my wife buys most of it".

His comments came on the eve of a mass protest by dairy farmers over the latest milk price cuts announced by four major dairy processors, which the industry says means many farmers are making a significant loss on every drop of milk they produce.

Andrew Butler, acting regional director of the National Farmers' Union in the South West, said: "It's absolutely incredible that Jim Paice doesn't know the price of milk, because he ought to, even more than any of his Cabinet colleagues. And it's extraordinary that he actually admits it.

"He needs to do his homework by going to Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, the Co-Op, or Asda – the supermarkets that are evidently sometimes even selling milk for less than they bought it, and well below the cost of production, to steal trade from those other big retailers, who are trying to produce a sustainable price for their farmers."

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Mr Butler added: "Mr Paice needs to wake up and take more interest in this crucial issue. Farmers are amazed and appalled at his revelation – even though he was being refreshingly honest for a politician.

"He ought to go out and do his own shopping, then he'll find out what a good bargain fresh milk really is, and realise the opportunity that exists for paying a realistic price."

In an interview Mr Paice said he supported the farmers' decision to go to London for a summit at Westminster, although he warned against more "militant" activity by dairy farmers angry at the new cuts, which follow reductions earlier in the year.

Quizzed on BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme over whether he knew the price of milk for consumers, he said: "No, because my wife buys it, but I have checked with her where it comes from."

He said their milk was bought from a local supermarket chain which was paying the higher price for milk, or from the corner shop in his village.

Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh said: "It turns out that it is not just David Cameron and George Osborne who don't know the price of milk.

"The Farming Minister is completely out of touch with reality too.

"Farmers and consumers will be shocked that he doesn't know the price of milk when people are struggling to pay for their weekly shop and there's a crisis in the dairy industry."

NFU vice-president Adam Quinney said Mr Paice's lack of knowledge reflected what surveys by the union showed – that the average person pre-retirement does not know the price of milk accurately.

"What we're after is making sure we can carry on supplying milk to consumers," said Mr Quinney, who farms in Warwickshire and whose family used to supply much of Birmingham with milk. He warned that unless retailers and processors acted promptly, dairy farmers would leave the industry in droves within months. That would push the price of milk up for consumers in the long run, he warned. He called for Mr Paice to "bang heads together" to ensure farmers received a fair price for their milk and to push back on regulation that added costs to dairy farmers.

The payment cuts followed falls on the international market of the price of cream and butter – but farmers are fed up with contracts that allow retailers and processors to cut payments at will.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  September 25 2012, 12:43PM

    Oh dear, I nearly slipped up badly with your name, you could almost read what I was thinking about you :))) That should of course read badgeryou.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  September 25 2012, 12:03PM

    Blimey bageryou, you are digging into the archives, you must be desperate. We've got rid of this man and now the new one has to prove himself. I see you are still spouting rubbish.....you don't know the half of it. There has to be a cull one way or another and all the posturing, wailing and gnashing of teeth won't help. Watch this space.

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  • badgeryou  |  September 25 2012, 11:24AM

    Badger cull in the interests of no one. Once again a British government has chosen to seek the best possible scientific advice and then ignore it! The licensed killing of badgers in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset could achieve a number of things. It could further advertise the unwelcome existence of bovine tuberculosis in British dairy herds. It could polarise opinion in the countryside and unite political opposition everywhere else. It could cost the farmers involved more than they could gain. It will almost certainly provoke active protest and put even more pressure on already hard-pressed police forces. What it will almost certainly not do is limit bovine tuberculosis, even in the target zones of Gloucestershire and Somerset. It might be helpful to list those things that are certain. Human tuberculosis is a dangerous disease. Bovine tuberculosis is a real problem for dairy farmers – who in any case have been paid too little for their milk and who have been going out of business for decades – and the disease lives on in the wild badger population. But by 1996, a policy of identification and slaughter had reduced the incidence of bovine TB in dairy herds in England and Wales to less than half a per cent, and the risk of direct transmission to humans has – with the pasteurisation of milk – long ago become negligible. The last and most systematic examination of the link between badgers and bovine TB found that, indeed, there was transmission, and proposed a series of systematic, randomised controlled trials over a sustained period to see whether culling could provide an answer. In 2003, the government, farmers, public health officers and wildlife campaigners got the answer: shooting and gassing did not eliminate, and could possibly spread, the disease. That may be because badgers disturbed in one area could migrate, taking the infection with them. The answer, delivered by Lord Krebs and the distinguished statisticians and zoologists who examined the results, could hardly be clearer: killing will not solve the problem. Lord Krebs's scientific credentials are not in doubt. He was trusted by successive British governments to head the Natural Environment Research Council, and to chair the Food Standards Agency. And he has just described the latest plan as a "crazy scheme". http://tinyurl.com/bvjp9rv

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  • 2ladybugs  |  July 12 2012, 2:00PM

    anyway, I now have some farming business to deal with so I will leave you to it.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  July 12 2012, 1:37PM

    Charles, TheodoreV is not the same person as Theo Hopkins. I think V is Tim something or other.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  July 12 2012, 1:35PM

    and the badger cull has been given the go-ahead. :))

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  • Charlespk  |  July 12 2012, 1:32PM

    I really don't know Rosie! . :( Best ask TheodoreV.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  July 12 2012, 12:56PM

    I thought I read somewhere that he had sold them......in the Guardian I think.....could be wrong however it might have been somebody else. :((

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  • Charlespk  |  July 12 2012, 12:50PM

    I've been looking for some more of those 'bootiful' Red mushrooms for Theo Rosie. . These townie incomers can't resist our traditional English fare. . And Theo's no exception. . He's a grand fellow and he owns some lovely woodland.(nods as good as a wink). :)

  • 2ladybugs  |  July 12 2012, 12:44PM

    Whoops, sorry Richard, Mr Haddock sir!! :((

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