Farmers protest about milk prices outside Morrisons© Adrian Sherratt/Rex

Farm leaders are meeting representatives from supermarket chain Morrisons in a bid to resolve the ongoing dispute over milk prices.

The meeting on Tuesday (11 August) follows a five-hour emergency summit in central London between farm leaders from the four UK countries.

The summit at Westminster brought together the leaders of the NFU, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers’ Union.

See also: Dairy leaders to hold fresh talks with Morrisons

Also involved were Farmers for Action (FFA), the Country Land and Business Association, the Tenant Farmers Association and the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “When four pints of highly nutritious milk is selling for less than a bottle of water then there is something wrong in the culture of society.”

A joint statement issued by the organisations after the summit called on retailers to “Stop devaluing fresh British food like milk purely to get customers through the door”.

See also: Map: Where to buy milk direct from farm

The statement warned: “Unless farmers’ returns are sustainable and you promote British food and label it properly the future of our supply is at risk.”

“They need one thing at the moment and that is money.”
David Handley, Farmers For Action

It added: “If you can’t demonstrate what you are doing for all food then we look to you to commit to changing.”

The organisations are also sending a letter to all major retailers, asking them to explain their buying policies and urging them to improve returns to farmers.

‘Dire situation’

FFA chairman David Handley said many producers faced the prospect of a bleak winter unless prices recovered and cashflows improved.

“They need one thing at the moment and that is money,” said Mr Handley.

“If we don’t get money going into the winter, this industry is going to be in a very, very dire situation indeed.”

The public wanted British food and farmers deserved a fair price for producing it, said Mr Handley.

Retailers had to come up with money – and quickly, he added.

“That does not mean that the consumer has to pay more.

“There are massive margins in the products that they take from us and [retailers] have now got to return that down the supply chain to get farming better back on to a better foothold.”