Farmers herded cows into an Asda supermarket, used tractors to blockade distribution centres and continued to buy up milk in bulk from stores over the weekend.
Four farming unions held an emergency summit yesterdayday (August 10) ahead of the meeting with Morrisons and militant pressure group Farmers for Action (FFA).
The meeting comes after blockades at Morrisons distribution centre on Thursday night and legal warnings issued by the supermarket to protesting farmers in Scotland.
‘Price cut after price cut’
James Hole, Somerset co-ordinator at FFA, said they have called on Morrisons to raise the retail value of milk and have asked negotiators to “bring their chequebook” to the meeting.
“We need to get some money back into dairy farmers’ pockets very quickly. There’s an alarming number of people saying ‘I don’t think I’m going to make the winter if things don’t change’.”
The National Farmers Union (NFU), the NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers’ Union held an emergency summit in London yesterday.
NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “The situation many of our members are experiencing has become a crisis.
“In dairy, many milk producers have seen price cut after price cut. It’s simply not sustainable for any farmer to continue to produce milk if they’re selling it at a loss.”
‘Imbalance between supply and demand’
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)
Last week Müller UK and Ireland announced a reduction of 0.8 pence per litre (ppl) to 22.35ppl from September 7. It follows similar cuts by other dairy processors.
Martin Armstrong, head of milk supply for Müller UK & Ireland, said: “We are seeing a significant imbalance between supply and demand in the UK and globally and this is weighing heavily on the value of the milk produced by farmers.
“We are not in a position to avoid the impact of these powerful and cyclical market fundamentals but we are continuing to invest heavily to create a diverse dairy business in the UK and to work collaboratively with our farmer board to align supply with demand.”
Meanwhile, co-operative Arla Foods UK has announced a new initiative to support its farmer owners by unveiling a new farmer-owned marque that will appear on its Arla branded products from the autumn.
Supported by a new marketing campaign, the product marque will offer consumers the opportunity to easily identify when they buy Arla-branded dairy products they are responsibly sourced from a farmer-owned business where all the profits go back to its owners, and has the highest expectations for animal welfare and environmental standards throughout its supply chain.
Arla will also be working independently with its big retail customers to increase the visibility of their continued support of its cooperative’s principles.
“Our farmer-owned marque is the natural step following on from our Support Our Farmers campaign and the launch of the Arla brand earlier this year,” said Ash Amirahmadi, Arla UK’s head of milk and member services.
“While we cannot reverse the global factors it will play an important role in minimising the impact of this downturn and ensure that our business is in a strong position for when markets start to recover.”