Against a rising tide of anger among milk producers at the latest round of price cuts from processors, Peter Kendall, the president of the English NFU, and David Handley, the leader of the militant Farmers For Action (FFA) group, will meet today to discuss what action to take.
NFUS president Nigel Miller is also planning to attend this meeting ahead of NFU Scotland and Moredun’s AMR conference.
The crisis talks follow calls from FFA for its members to “take to the streets again” in order to make their views known. This type of direct action has been a feature of the organisation in its twelve year history with blockades at distribution points and demonstrations at supermarkets favourite moves.
According to FFA, it is the “usual culprits” who have been taking the price down, with Tesco, who are advertising free cream, and Asda – offering discounted dairy produce – “in the frame”.
But even the more moderate Kendall said the time for talking was over and action had to be taken before the dairy industry was on its knees.
“Dairy farmers are quitting in record numbers and the latest round of cuts which come into place in August will be the final straw for many,” he said.
“We cannot emphasise enough just how urgent this is. It is not just a case of us sitting down to talk. The whole industry is looking to us for action so it is vital we come up with a plan of action that can help reverse these steps which are threatening the entire dairy industry.”
Yesterday the last major milk buyer, First Milk, followed the rest of the major processors in dropping its price, in their case by 1.7p per litre. First Milk’s chairman Bill Mustoe said it was hugely frustrating to see further reductions from the liquid sector.
“I am under no illusion as to the effect these price reductions will have on our members’ businesses and their confidence in the dairy industry as a whole,” he said.
He claimed the strategy for First Milk remained unchanged: “We believe the route to a long-term sustainable future for farmers is through accessing a broader range of products and markets. I firmly believe the current situation will result in more farmers choosing to be part of a business that allows them to shape their own destiny, rather than sitting back and allowing others to dictate it.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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