Minister: I do not know milk price
Farming minister Jim Paice has admitted that he does not know the price of milk because "my wife buys most of it".
His comments came as dairy farmers plan to protest over the latest milk price cuts announced by three major dairy processors, which the industry says means many farmers are making a significant loss on every litre they produce.
Mr Paice said he supported the farmers' decision to go to London for a summit in Westminster, although he warned against more "militant" activity by dairy farmers angry at the new cuts which follow reductions earlier in the year.
Quizzed on BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme over whether he knew the price of milk for consumers, he said: "No, because my wife buys most of it, but I have checked with her where it comes from."
He said their milk was bought from a local supermarket chain which was paying the higher price for milk or from the corner shop in his village.
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said: "It turns out that it is not just David Cameron and George Osborne who don't know the price of milk, the farming minister is completely out of touch with reality too.
"Farmers and consumers will be shocked that he doesn't know the price of milk when people are struggling to pay for their weekly shop and there's a crisis in the dairy industry.
"At the dairy summit tomorrow, Jim Paice will call for farmers to get a decent price for their milk - the trouble is, he is so incompetent he hasn't a clue what it should be."
National Farmers' Union vice president Adam Quinney said Mr Paice's lack of knowledge reflected what surveys by the union showed - that the average person pre-retirement does not know the price of milk accurately.
"What we're after is making sure we can carry on supplying milk to consumers," he said, warning that unless retailers and processors acted promptly dairy farmers would leave the industry within months.