Groups of dairy farmers have bought up milk stocks at Morrisons, Asda, Lidl and Tesco stores nationwide as part of a movement dubbed the Milk Trolley Challenge.
David Handley, chairman of Farmers for Action (FFA), welcomed the milk protests and said they also plan to target manufacturers that abuse their buying power.
“If necessary, we will protest in the form of peaceful protest to get the point across that this company abuses its power in the way that it treats the British farming community,” he said.
Handley suggested that the action might involve demonstrations and the removal of the manufacturers’ own brand products from the shelves.
Farmers call on manufacturers
"Come together with the farming industry and let’s get this stopped once and for all.”
- David Handley, chairman of Farmers for Action (FFA)
‘Call on British manufacturers’
But he said: “We don’t want to go down that road, we would far rather meet with manufacturers.
“What is wrong with British food manufacturing and British farmers coming together as one voice and saying we’re not prepared to put up with this any longer.”
He said they were both “squeezed” by retailers,adding: “I call on British manufacturers: come together with the farming industry and let’s get this stopped once and for all.”
The Milk Trolley Challenge has gone viral on social media with farmers taking videos of supermarkets “getting milked” in Lancashire, Cornwall, Gloucestershire and other areas.
Nearly 20,000 people have also signed a petition calling on the government to introduce a minimum milk price for farmers.
‘Oversupply of British milk’
Morrisons group commercial director Darren Blackhurst said the supermarket aimed to deliver “great value” and passed on lower prices to customers wherever possible.
Dairy price cuts 2015
- 2.43 pence per litre (ppl): First Milk (February 1)
- 1.75ppl: Müller UK & Ireland (March 5)
- 1.8ppl: Arla Foods (July 9)
- 1.5ppl: Dairy Crest (March)
- 0.8ppl: Arla Foods (September 1)
- 1.4ppl: Dairy Crest (September 1)
“We do recognise, however, due to reduced global demand, that this has created an oversupply of British milk creating difficult conditions for many dairy farmers at present,” he said.
Blackhurst confirmed that Morrisons is not accepting any further cost price decreases from its suppliers driven by falling farm gate milk price.
In response, National Farmers Union (NFU) president Meurig Raymond said: “I don’t feel that this goes far enough in these desperate times.
“I wish to see the retailer develop transparent pricing mechanisms, and long term relationships with their suppliers, that show support to the British dairy sector.”
NFU chief dairy adviser Sian Davies said the market situation in dairy, lamb and other products had driven desperate farmers to direct action.
“Farmers have said that as they are being paid almost nothing for the milk they produce they might as well give it away; they are flagging the issue up at retailers and making the case to the public,” he said.