Dairy Crest milk crate with bottles of milk© Rex Shutterstock

A group of farmers, mainly from the Midlands, staged demonstrations at Arla, Dairy Crest and Iceland sites on Monday night (26 October) in protest over disastrously low farmgate milk prices.

Around 60 farmers, who operate under the umbrella group United Farmers for Real Action, were involved in the action, which saw Dairy Crest’s plant at Foston and Arla’s yard at Burton-on-Trent closed for more than an hour.

Many of the farmers who attended came from Staffordshire and Derbyshire and were the same ones behind the rolling road protest staged on the A50 back in July.

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A separate, smaller group also closed an Iceland distribution further south for a short time.

Stephen Chadwick, a contractor and spokesman for the group, said they wanted to keep the pressure on milk processors to pass more money back along the supply chain to producers.

“Something needs to be done. It has gone quiet and in the public’s eyes they think it [the milk price crisis] has been solved.

“We want it back in the public eye to say it has not been solved. When people are on 18p or 19p/litre it isn’t enough money.”

Farmers For Action distanced itself from the demonstrations, accusing those of taking part of taking a backwards step and setting farmer against farmer.

David Handley, FFA chairman, said he was disappointed by the action and felt steps such as tipping a load of maize in Dairy Crest’s gateway were not the right way forward.

He had been told by Arla that some members had not had their milk picked up on time as a result of the protests, so there had also been knock-on consequences for other dairy farmers.

The dairy coalition had been working tirelessly to achieve better prices for producers and would continue to do so, said Mr Handley.

“I’m still milking cows and I know the pain these people are feeling, but if we go down this route it will finish us. At the moment, we have to talk.”

Mr Chadwick said members of United Farmers for Real Action were not prepared to wait for the nod from FFA before they took action. “We’re setting the ball rolling now, until we get some answers.”