An unprecedented meeting of farming unions has called for the immediate reversal of milk price cuts imposed on farmers since 1 April. .
The NFU yesterday chaired a meeting of leaders from NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) and Farmers for Action who came together in an industry show of strength after a “catastrophic three months for the sector”.
The representatives called for all milk price cuts imposed on farmers since 1 April to be restored by 1 August. The unions also called on farmers to show their strength of feeling by turning out in force at a crisis summit in London on Wednesday next week to highlight the scale of the problem to retailers, MPs, processors and the public.
The unions said the summit will tackle the need for retailers working with processors to take responsibility for a sustainable supply chain which returns at least a cost of production for dairy farmers.
A joint statement said: “The catastrophic cuts will drive farmers out of the dairy industry and we are united in our demand for an immediate reversal of recent and planned cuts. There has been an unprecedented outcry of anger and frustration among farmers. We want to harness that strength of feeling and bring together farmers from across England, Scotland and Wales to express their feelings in London next week.
“Farmers have told us they will do whatever it takes to stand up against these cuts – Wednesday’s summit gives us that chance.
“There is a window of opportunity between now and1 August to progress a robust voluntary code of practice, however, we will also be exploring a regulatory solution from government.”
In the past 10 days Robert Wiseman Dairies, owned by Müller Dairies, Arla Foods UK, the UK subsidiary of Arla Foods Amba, as well as Dairy Crest, announced cuts to their milk prices paid to farmers as of 1 August of 1.7ppl, 2.0ppl and 1.65ppl respectively, following further significant cuts in recent months, prompting widespread concern about the future of the dairy industry.
Earlier this week, the Farmers For Action group threatened the supermarket multiples with blockades, particularly Asda, which it blames for discounting milk too heavily. The group has carried out similar protests before, disrupting the day-to-day running of supermarkets.
David Hanley, chairman of Farmers For Action,said: “If things remain as they are then we will no longer have a sustainable milk industry in this country. Asda are discounting milk so heavily and this goes right down the retail chain.”
Hanley said that protests would begin in the next month or so and added that his group would be lobbying Parliament extensively on the issue.
Implications for supplier-retailer relationships on
NamNews - Friday 6th July 2012