22 January 2001
Militants claim milk price credit

By John Burns

FARMERS For Action is claiming credit for persuading supermarkets to increase their retail prices for milk and to accept price increases from the processors supplying them.

As a result, more could be paid to dairy farmers.

Asda started the ball rolling this week by raising the price of its four-pint carton of milk from 83p to 88p, an increase of about 2.2ppl retail.

Other supermarkets have repeatedly said they accepted that farmers needed higher prices for their milk, but the supermarkets could not risk being uncompetitive by unilaterally paying more.

But now that Asda has moved its price, there will be nothing to stop others following suit, says FFA chairman David Handley.

“FFA has met the supermarkets and processors several times since November, each time with a consistent message,” said Mr Handley.

“We have a study by Aberystwyth University showing that an 84-cow herd needs 21.34ppl just to cover costs. The 2p we got in October has already gone in increased costs of fuel and straights feeds.

“We have already started a new round of meetings seeking further price increases from 1 April.

“We are seeking an overall increase of 3ppl, including the rise expected this week, backdated to 1 January.”

The FFA predicts that Dairy Crest will this week announce an increase of just over 1ppl from 1 January.

Mr Handley continues to try to persuade the NFU to work with the FFA.

“The FFA is willing to meet NFU president Ben Gill and his team at any time so that we can jointly help get better prices for British farmers,” he said.

“The NFU has stated that it cannot talk prices. But the FFA can, and we should be working together.”