MILK PROCESSORS and retailers have come under an unprecedented attack from farming organisations.

The move follows Robert Wiseman Dairies‘ decision to cut its December ex-farm milk price by 0.5p/litre.

Wiseman said it was forced into making the cut because competitor Arla Foods had refused to rescind a 0.4p/litre cut from the autumn.

The processor said it would reverse the decision if Arla reinstated its reduction by Dec 31, but this seems extremely unlikely.

NFU president Tim Bennett said: “The decision to announce a provisional cut at this moment in time is cynical. This pathetic tit-for-tat approach to milk pricing across the board must come to an end.

“This flies in the face of the market, which is indicating prices should be increasing, and comes at a time when dairy farmers are facing significant increases in costs.”

John Kinnaird, NFUS president, said he was fed up with the  bickering. “If anybody doubted the poisonous environment that dairy farmers are operating in, they need only look at the ridiculous public statements recently from companies that are supposed to be industry leaders.

“If just a fraction of the effort and resources these companies are currently dedicating to finger pointing was redirected towards ensuring a fair deal for suppliers, we could be much further towards a resolution to this desperate of affairs.”

David Handley of Farmers for Action said Wiseman‘s cut was indefensible and could provoke direct action against the processor or its customers, like Tesco, if it went ahead.