WITH the shocking news coming in that organic milk prices are set to drop below that of conventional milk for the first time in living memory, it is more crucial than ever that we look to our own supplies of feed and wheat to be able to sustain the sterling work carried out by our organic farmers, writes FUW president Glyn Roberts.

Factors that are affecting the prices are largely due to the conflict in Ukraine with the future supplies of organic wheat brought into serious doubt going into the winter and beyond.

However, driver shortages in the wake of Brexit are also having a huge impact on collections from organic farms, with many farms being very spread out and therefore milk tankers are having to travel further between collections, sometimes requiring a secondary movement.

The recent increase in fuel is feeding into this crisis, with many companies finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the previous fleet numbers on the roads and therefore adding to the problems.

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What we will no doubt see is that in the short term, it will be increasingly difficult for organic milk producers to maintain the gap between conventional milk and a premium organic product on the shelves, with customers reluctant to pay that bit extra whilst the price of the average food basket continues to increase alarmingly.

Retailers will still expect higher margins on organic produce which will inevitably widen the price gap on the shelf but without necessarily translating into the same profit margins for the organic farmer.

Whilst consumers are still eager for an organic offering and recent figures show that there has been no discernable downward turn in demand, the organic farmers firmly believe that what needs to happen is more recognition of the positive impacts of organic farming on soil health and the environment and that the work is properly rewarded for its sustainability.

As a union, we will continue to support all of our farmers to continue with production and distribution of their produce and will continue to lobby the Welsh and UK Government as much as possible to ensure that supplies are sourced as locally as possible to ensure food security for this year and beyond.