Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset, has called on the government to protect small dairy farmers from "predatory" supermarkets.

Loder warned MPs dairy farmers' livelihoods are at risk if they refuse to agree to new terms. One example he gave was that Sainsbury’s had threatened to tear up dairy farmers’ contracts unless 20% of calves are sold.

In the House of Commons today (September 11), during questions to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the MP said: "Sainsbury’s, one of Britain’s ‘big four’ supermarket chains, has threatened to tear up the contracts of small dairy farmers in Dorset who supply them with milk; if they refuse to sell them a percentage of their calves."

The MP said: “This is an abuse of Sainsbury’s dominant market position.

I have asked the Government to support me in defending the rights of small dairy farmers across the country, who are effectively being held to ransom by these predatory supermarkets.

“I am pleased that the Secretary of State has agreed to meet with me to look at this matter in detail and that, through the Agriculture Bill, Government can go further on this. I look forward to farmers’ contracts with supermarkets being better protected in future."

Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton and chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee, who supports the call for fairer milk contracts, added: “The government must keep a close eye on what is happening in the dairy sector to ensure farmers are paid a reasonable price.

"I know, having spoken to the Farming Minister, that she shares our concerns and one of her top priorities is reforming and strengthening milk contracts for our farmers.”