Across the UK, farms are going out of business while supermarkets pay pennies for basic produce such as milk and meat. The principle of a fair share of the consumer price being paid to producers (a price that reflects the cost of production and allows a decent quality of life for the producer) is applicable across the world. The severity of the human impacts will differ greatly, but the producers’ experiences of larger corporations and global competition pushing down prices and taking an increasing share of their profits, are shared across the world, particularly by the smaller farms.
LWM’s first activity on this was the Fair Deal Awards (see below). Since then, the campaign for a fair deal for UK farmers has been growing and a separate Fair Deal website with regular blog posts has been set up to focus further on this. Meanwhile in Cumbria an event will be held in November 2011 to look at the potential for increasing fair trade – whether in the UK or in global trading.
See also the European Food Declaration, which proposes food sovereignty as a principle for all nations and sets out how this would be reflected in a better EU agricultural policy.
In 2007-8 Localise West Midlands supported the Fair Deal Awards, which were created by the Attwood Group to raise awareness of both ‘fair deals’ and ‘unfair deals’ faced by British farmers.
The Fair Deal Awards are nominated by producers and given to retailers that they feel offer them a ‘fair price’. The nominations in the West Midlands at that time were:
- Waitrose, nominated by dairy farmer Andrew Hemmings of Hockley Heath.
- The Public who visit their farm shop and buy from them direct, nominated by Charlotte Hollins of Fordhall Farm in Shropshire.
- Rugby Livestock Sales Market, where producers can sell directly to a customer and get a fair price, was nominated by Brian Swift of Hazel Farm, Solihull.
- Capers in Pershore, nominated by Lynda Whitcombe of Plantation Cottage Herbs.
If you are a producer and would like to make a nomination please email us.
By highlighting these positive cases, the Attwood Group and Localise West Midlands hope to raise awareness of the more negative and unfortunately more common experiences of farmers, where they do not receive a ‘fair deal’, and bring publicity to the wider movement to get the concept of trade justice applied in the UK as well as abroad.
As Michael Hart founder of the Small and Family Farms Alliance puts it – “I hope that one day we will be able to put fairly traded milk in our fair-trade tea and coffee”.
There is a growing campaign in the UK to get consumers and retailers to start considering purchasing and selling fairly traded British products like milk and beef as well as fair trade tea and coffee.