Farmers have welcomed the decisions by all the major food processors to cancel or suspend milk price cuts that were due to take place on August 1, but warned this was only a first step and would not end their protests.
On Friday afternoon (July 27) Wiseman Dairies became the last of the big dairies to back down on plans to cut the price it paid for milk.
In a statement it said the planned 1.7p per litre price cut “followed the significant loss of income we suffered further to the substantial decline in cream values experienced since the beginning of the year, which left us unable to sustain the milk price we were paying”.
However, it said the announcement of the price cut coincided with a period of adverse weather conditions and rising feed costs for dairy farmers, which it recognised had caused difficulties for farmers.
Urgent and significant support
It added: “We have been engaging with our customers with regard to the exceptional circumstances facing the supply chain and the need for urgent and significant support. From our discussions to date, we are confident this support will now be demonstrated.
“We welcome whole industry recognition of the difficulties facing farmers and the acknowledgement that fresh milk processors, even those that are as efficient and well invested as Wiseman, are under severe financial pressure.”
Wiseman’s move followed decisions by Arla and First Milk to rescind planned price cuts and an announcement by Dairy Crest that it was putting aside its planned cut for two months.
Their moves came after most of their retail customers increased the premiums they were prepared to pay for milk.
In addition to the move on price cuts, talks are also continuing on a future framework for the milk industry. Last week heads of agreement were reached after a meeting between farmers’ representatives and the milk processors’ trade body Dairy UK, which was chaired by Jim Paice, agriculture minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Commenting on the decision not to implement the price cuts an NFU spokesman said: “This is a good step but it is not the end of it. Other price cuts were made earlier in the year and farmers also want to see them reversed.”
David Handley, chairman of Farmers For Action, said: “We will continue the protests at depots until everyone has rescinded the price cuts.
“We also want to track the money that was taken from us in May/June. We have given them four weeks to show us their accounts so we can see where the money went and we want some of it back.”