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Milk (Regulations)

Volume 438: debated on Monday 9 June 1947

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asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that a large number of farmers are having their milk returned from collecting centres because of deficiency in butter fat content and solids; that this trouble has been largely unavoidable owing to the hard winter and lack of feedingstuffs; and if he will take steps to modify the present regulations, and so avoid a considerable waste of milk.

I appreciate that the decline in the solids content of milk, which is a seasonal feature, has no doubt been aggravated by the poor harvest last year and, in particular, the poor quality of hay, as well as by the delayed growth of grass this spring; but I have no evidence that any significant quantity of milk is being returned to farmers on account of a deficiency of milk solids. The Sale of Milk Regulations, 1901, are designed as a guide to the authorities administering the Food and Drugs Acts, and do not govern the return of milk by a buyer, which is determined by ordinary commercial practice. I do not consider that any modification of existing regulations would be justified.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the amount of milk returned in this way is not negligible, and that in one part of Somerset in one day milk was returned to eight different farmers? Will he look into the matter to see how commercial milk depots are applying the regulations, because at present there is considerable loss of food and financial loss to the farmers for reasons beyond their control?

I can assure my hon. Friend that I have looked into this matter, and that I have found that in each case where the milk has been returned it has not been returned before the farmer has received one, two, or even three warnings of the quality of the milk, and that, despite the warnings, there has been no improvement. Hence the return, unfortunately, of some of the milk.