Farmers for Action (FFA) have accused Britain’s biggest retailer of planning to move the supply of 200M litres of milk from dairy co-operative Arla and to rival dairy company Müller.
Tesco has yet to respond to a request for comment, while the National Farmers Union (NFU), Arla and Müller declined to comment on what they described as “speculation”.
FFA branded the alleged proposed milk supply switch as a “totally irresponsible” move. The group said that Tesco used to operate a 50/50 share between the dairy companies.
‘Shutting down distribution centres’
Vow from FFA
“The gloves are off and we will not go down without a fight.”
- David Handley, chairman, Farmers for Action
“We say to you Tesco, if you want to avoid thousands of farmers coming to your stores to tell the consumer [and] shutting down your distribution centres, you need to reinstate a farmer owner co-op as your 50% supplier on liquid milk,” the FFA said.
“If not, a fight you will have – the rest of us have got nothing to lose.”
The militant farmers have called on Prime Minster David Cameron to intervene and announced plans to march on Westminster this March.
Last night the FFA committee unanimously voted to take action, unless Tesco changed its mind over the next few days.
On Sunday (January 24) FFA chairman David Handley claimed that the milk supply switch would devastate the milk sector, creating a “boom or bust” situation for dairy farmers.
‘We will not go down without a fight’
“The gloves are off and we will not go down without a fight. If we have to suffer and lose our businesses, we will make 100% sure that those causing this devastation suffer too,” Handley said in a statement.
In response to the FFA claims, NFU dairy board chairman Rob Harrison said: “Rumour and speculation about changes to dairy contracts is unsettling and unhelpful.
“We call on Tesco to clarify its position as soon as possible. Any announcement from Tesco which impacts our members’ contracts will be reviewed very carefully by the NFU.”
A Müller spokesman declined to comment on “industry speculation”.
An Arla spokesman said: “Arla is aware of the speculation regarding its business with Tesco, which is being published across social media channels.
“However, it is inappropriate for us to comment on speculation regarding our commercial relationships with our customers.”