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Archbishop Calls For Fairtrade Mark For British Produce

Archbishop Meeting Students at an Agricultural College

Wednesday 25th July 2012

The Archbishop of York today called for British farmers to be paid a fair wage for their produce, saying that supermarkets were not valuing the contribution the agricultural sector makes to national life.

Dr John Sentamu said British consumers, aided and abetted by supermarkets, were paying too little for their food and claimed that cheap imports are making it difficult for the country’s farmers to earn a decent living.


The Archbishop, an impassioned advocate of British farming, said he regularly visited farms and found he was often being told the same thing – that prices are too low.


He also maintained that Britain’s uplands communities, such as the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors, would fall into ruin without the presence of farmers. But he said upland farmers were often the most economically disadvantaged.


Dr Sentamu said:


“The economic climate has made it very difficult for many British farmers, with dairy producers in particular bearing the brunt of poor prices. I regularly meet local producers across Yorkshire and I know they are going through really tough times right now.


“As consumers, we have got to be prepared to pay a fairer price for what we are getting. I know everyone is feeling the pinch in their pocket during this long recession, but really how can we expect to pay less for our milk than say a bottle of mineral water or cola? How can we expect farmers to go on producing the best produce in the world – tasty and nutritional home grown produce – when we are paying them below the going rate for their labours? We should be concerned about food security: Fairer prices should be the bench mark of our concern.


“Yes, the supermarkets have got to pay farmers the right price, particularly when it comes to milk. Absolutely. What they pay now is derisory. But as customers we should not collude with this – it simply isn’t a fair situation at the moment.


“I would love to see a Fairtrade mark for British goods. Cheap foreign imports are flooding the market and British farmers are not getting a fair deal. We should demand fairness not just for workers overseas, but also at home too. Why not buy British farm produce and take less in imports? It would be encouraging to look at the shelves of our supermarkets and know that the producer has been paid a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.


“What we have in the UK is often better quality farm produce and if we have to pay a bit more and give British farmers a higher price, then we should do that.”


“I have long supported a ‘buy British’ and ‘buy local’ approach where possible, as it is necessary to benefit the rural economy and make our supply of food more sustainable and secure.”

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