Crashing milk prices have forced Farmers For Action chairman David Handley to consider quitting dairy farming in the spring.
Mr Handley opened his speech at the Semex dairy conference by announcing his herd, milking parlour and equipment would all be up for sale in April, if prices don’t improve.
He attacked dairy processors and supermarkets he claimed were still making money while dairy farmers were being forced to give up in droves.
He claimed that the number of dairy farmers in England and Wales could halve in the next five years – twice as fast as the current speed of decline.
“If anybody thinks I am going to run a business and be screwed on price, they have another thing coming,” Mr Handley said.
“If you want to bury your head in the sand, sit there and wait for the promises of tomorrow, feel free. I am not.”
Mr Handley said supermarkets using milk as a loss-leader to draw in shoppers was turning it into a “throwaway commodity”.
Listen to David Handley explain why he might leave dairy farming
He said retailers could immediately inject cash into the chain by bumping up on-shelf prices.
“You are sucking the lifeblood out of the supply chain and one year, maybe two years, down the road we will be in a position where there’s not enough money to go around,” he said.
In terms of solutions, Mr Handley said that farmers had to fight for change and not sit back.
Among his answers, he suggested the high prices supermarkets paid for milk should be shared among all farmers and the whole industry should do a better job explaining the hard, everyday realities of dairy farming to consumers.
“Control it. If they don’t pay for it, don’t produce. It is in your hands as dairy farmers,” Mr Handley said.