Business

More than 1,000 farmers to protest milk price cuts

Monday 09 July 2012 10:31
Milk bottles (c) Rex Features

More than 1000 farmers are expected to descend on London this week in protest at milk price cuts that have wiped £50,000 off the average farm income.

The protest is due to coincide with an emergency dairy summit at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster at 1pm on Wednesday (11 July).

Farm minister Jim Paice is among the politicians due to attend the summit, which has been organised by the NFU, following a series of farmgate milk price cuts.

NFU chief dairy adviser Rob Newbery said the venue would hold 2000 people.

“The invite is open and we’ll know more on the day, but we are thinking between 500 and 2000 people will attend. The genie is out of the bottle.”

The event is expected to attract farmers from across Britain.

NFU West Midlands said at least three coachloads of farmers are travelling from Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire.

Other farmers were making their own way from the region, said an NFU spokesman. Those unable to attend were writing to MPs.

The NFU North-East region said it had booked two coaches. Several car loads and a minibus were travelling to London separately, it added.

Other agricultural sectors which rely on dairy farmers to make a living have also given their support to the rally.

They include BOCM Pauls, which has sponsored three coaches.

Meanwhile, Scottish farmers and politicians have vowed to ramp up the pressure in a bid to find solutions to the deepening milk price crisis.

NFU Scotland has invited all farmers and processors to attend an emergency industry meeting at Lanark Mart on Monday (9 July).

It comes as the Scottish government’s Rural Affairs secretary Richard Lochhead called on farm minister Jim Paice to consider the option of legislation to provide producers with a fair return.

In a letter to Mr Paice, Mr Lochhead said the government should signal it was prepared to take further action should an agreement not be reached between farmers and dairy processors.

He added: “If a voluntary code of practice cannot be agreed to tackle pricing issues, then the Scottish Government will be left with no option but to begin exploring the case for legislation - though a voluntary deal remains our preferred solution.

“Our dairy farmers produce a high quality and essential product for which they deserve to be paid a fair and equitable price. The current epidemic of price cuts is simply unsustainable and cannot be allowed to continue unchecked.”

The NFUS said it had high hopes that Scottish dairy farmers would turn out in force at Lanark ahead of the national rally in London.

The union has written to dairy processors inviting them to attend the Lanark event to discuss ways the industry might work together to find solutions.

The invitation to processors recognises that the event is likely to be fiery and the letter states that they will be invited to attend the event 45 minutes after it begins.

It adds: “This is to allow an opportunity for any frustrations to be vented so that sensible and constructive routes forward might then be considered when processor representatives arrive. 

“At this juncture it is of vital importance that we work together to try to revitalise a sustainable Scottish dairy sector that works for all parties.

“NFUS believe that farmers will greatly appreciate those processors who take the time to explain their position in person.”

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