The meeting, which will include representatives of the National Farmers Union and the milk processors’ trade body Dairy UK, will take place at the Royal Welsh Show in Powys.
Last night Paice had a meeting with the Scottish and Welsh farming ministers, Richard Lockhead and Alun Davies, after which they released a statement saying: “The dairy sector is a key part of our agricultural industry and all the governments in the UK are determined it should have a profitable and sustainable future.
“In responding to the current situation, industry needs to address both the immediate issue of the price paid for milk and also the structures and mechanisms that will help underpin the long-term viability of the sector.”
Code of practice
They said they had agreed that:
* A code of practice on milk contracts is in the interest of the whole industry, ministers urge the industry to reach rapid agreement, with effectiveness of the code to be subject to review within a year
* Jim Paice will raise within UK government the possibility of a role for the Groceries Code Adjudicator in providing a means of arbitration for any code
* Producer organisations are key to addressing the current imbalance in the market place in the longer term.
The dispute began when farmers said cuts in the amount they were being paid for milk had driven the price below the cost of production.
Processors said they had been forced to cut prices because of the fall in global commodity prices for cream by-products.
This weekend protesting farmers blockaded Robert Wiseman’s processing plants in Bridgwater, Somerset, and Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, and Müller Dairy’s plant at Market Drayton, Shropshire.
Additional pressure for a price increase came from the TV chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, who last week wrote to The Times urging consumers to boycott supermarkets that treated milk as a loss leader.
They said current milk pricing was damaging British dairy farming and would jeopardise the British landscape, if it resulted in super dairy units.
Asda and Morrisons had been singled out for criticism by campaigners and this weekend they both increased the premium they pay to farmers.
Last week the Food & Drink Federation (FDF) rejected accusations from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) that food manufacturers should do more to support milk prices.
Terry Jones, the FDF’s communications director, told foodmanufacture.co.uk: “By and large, food manufacturers are not big buyers of liquid milk.
“The products they do buy are, for the most part, not manufactured in the UK as the primary processors of milk have tended to focus on other commodities.”