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New Threat to UK Dairy Industry

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Every week sees yet another new attempt by US producers peddling inferior products to infiltrate the UK market, presumably prompted by our need to sign trade agreements as we leave the UK. But seriously; if someone tried to sell you an inferior product then described your refusal to buy it as a ‘trade barrier’, you’d tell them to sling their hook, but that’s exactly what could happen as a result of serious lobbying by the US dairy industry, which regards our refusal to buy their inferior product as just that. In discussions with Donald Trump they have apparently argued that any US‒UK trade deal must open our doors to their produce. US milk is permitted to contain almost twice the number of somatic cells – white cells which fight bacterial infections – as milk permitted in the EU. A higher cell count is indicative of illness or poor welfare, and the milk is invariably decidedly inferior ‒ it goes off quicker, is less nutrition with reduced calcium, butterfat and protein, and high levels of sodium and chlorine. High cell counts are often an indicator of mastitis, with the increased number of cells simply a means of fighting off the condition. US producers are also unhappy about the way cell counts are taken in the EU – here they are taken at individual farms, identifying the source of a problem, whereas in the US counts are taken after milk from many sources has been combined, enabling some bad producers to remain below the radar. Clearly such a concession to secure a trade deal would raise the question of what might happen to our own dairy industry, which boasts very high standards. The news also comes just a fortnight or so after Greenpeace’s investigative arm, Unearthed, revealed that a transatlantic network of think tanks calling for the UK to ditch EU safety standards on food, the environment and pharmaceuticals had accidentally published secret plans to influence UK‒US trade talks. But why else would our Department for International Trade wish to keep details of discussions with the US secret? It really would be America first if all this was allowed to happen!

About the Author:

Paul Melnyczuk is editor of Home Farmer, and together with Ruth Tott is the founder of the company. His Ukrainian father and Austrian mother came over in the 1950s, and he was raised near Accrington (of Stanley fame) in Lancashire. With a degree in European Literature and a year spent living in Sweden, and a further 2 years in the Sudan, his background is rich and varied.

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