Protesting farmers target Dairy Crest and Arla

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

Farmer protests were staged at Dairy Crest and Arla sites on Monday night
Farmer protests were staged at Dairy Crest and Arla sites on Monday night

Related tags: Dairy crest, Dairy farming

A dairy farmer splinter group has targeted depots owned by processors Dairy Crest and Arla Foods as low milk prices persist.  

Farmer protests temporarily closed Dairy Crest’s site in Foston and Arla’s milk collection depot in Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, on Monday night.

United Farmers for Real Action member Paul Ratcliffe, who demonstrated at Dairy Crest, said they were driven to protest in desperation and some farmers were not going to survive the winter.

‘We are sinking’

“We all just said we have got to try something because we are sinking. We have got to fight even though we are sinking,”​ Ratcliffe said. 

“To let go of something you have done all your life, you can’t do it.”

He dismissed concerns from Farmers for Action (FFA) that its protest could jeopardise the good work done by farmers who protested over the summer.

He said: “Where’s the good work? There’s not a lot happening in my eyes.”

Plight of farmers

“We all just said we have got to try something because we are sinking. We have got to fight even though we are sinking.”

  • Paul Ratcliffe, member, United Farmers for Real Action 

FFA co-ordinator and dairy farmer James Hole said United Farmers for Real Action and other splinter groups have to be careful not to undo progress already made.

‘Jeopardise work done’

“I think they have a voice and their voice should be heard. But taking it upon themselves to take direct action could jeopardise work already done,” ​Hole said. 

“What we don’t want is the minority spoiling it for the majority.”

Hole said he understood there were “anxious people”​ out there because processors had not yet substantially increased milk prices despite concessions from supermarkets.

“There are people who have jumped the gun from Farmers for Action’s point of view. We have got to give it time to come through,” ​Hole said.   

“I would still ask for patience. I feel their pain because I’m milking cows as well.”

View from FFA

“What we don’t want is the minority spoiling it for the majority.”

  • James Hole, co-ordinator, Farmers for Action

Arla increased the amount it pays for milk by just 0.03 pence per litre​ (ppl) at the end of September but held its price for November.

Last week Arla head of milk and member services Ash Amirahmadi said milk exports from the US and New Zealand had fallen but supplies from the UK and mainland Europe continued to increase. 

Dairy Crest confirmed that it would hold the December milk price for its farmers on standard liquid contracts. But there would be a reduction of 0.6ppl to its Davidstow milk price from December 1 2015.

A spokeswoman for Dairy Crest said: "We recognise the challenges facing our farmers and have worked hard to deliver price stability in what remains an extremely volatile and tough environment for us all in the dairy sector.

"We also continue to do everything we can to support our farmers through our farm business teams and the free additional support services we offer."

The Foston site is set be sold as part of the sale of Dairy Crest​s dairies business to Müller for £80M.

Related topics: Supply Chain

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