Farmers fight latest price cut with new round of milk demos

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Arla foods milk, Robert wiseman dairies, Price, Milk

Farmers fight latest price cut with new round of milk demos
Milk producers slam processor for going against market trend

Pressure group Farmers for Action (FFA) has started picketing Arla dairies and retail distribution centres in protest at the company's recent 0.35p/l milk price cut.

The first wave of action, which saw around 20 farmers blockade Arla's Sheffield Park dairy in Sussex and Ashby in Leicestershire, followed a meeting between Arla chief executive Tim Smith, representatives from the National Farmers' Union (NFU) and FFA boss David Handley.

"Basically, Smith was not prepared to budge at all," said Handley. "But refusing to negotiate on this will cost him far more than what he'll get from cutting milk prices to farmers."

FFA was also talking to other processors about price cuts, including Robert Wiseman Dairies, added Handley.

"If UK milk processors need increased margin, they should go to their retail customers who have some 18p/l to play with, against a dairy producer who has 18p/l to live on," he said.

NFU dairy board chairman Gwyn Jones claimed Arla's price cut went against the market trend, but the company defended its position, saying it followed a 0.75p/l increase in milk prices earlier this year and the reduction merely put its prices back in line with the competition.

Arla said: "We pointed out at the meeting that the Arla Foods Milk Partnership board [representing farmers supplying 60% of Arla's milk] had agreed our pricing position and, therefore, we saw no justification for any disruption of supplies or other action from farmer members of the groups at the meeting."

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