Milking parlour© REX/FLPA

A Christian charity has urged churches to pray for and support British dairy farmers who are struggling to survive amid falling milk prices.

The Arthur Rank Centre (ARC), a charity supported by rural churches, said its rallying call was prompted after First Milk announced it would delay payments to 1,200 farmer members because of a financial crisis at the farming co-operative.

“The number of dairy farmers has halved over little more than a decade,” said ARC chief executive Jerry Marshall.

See also: Dairy farmers need defence from sharp price drops

Suggested prayer for dairy farmers

Loving God, we give you thanks for all the food that is produced for us by farmers every day.

We thank you especially for milk, a vital food, which we don’t always fully appreciate.

We pray for dairy farmers and the particular pressures that they face at this present time.

We remember farmers under pressure because of low prices and late milk payments, may they know the peace of your presence.

May we consumers never take our food for granted and may we value and support those who work tirelessly to feed us. 

This we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Prices are at their lowest since 2007 while costs have risen 36%. On top of this, the recent announcement by First Milk that they are delaying payments by two weeks, presents significant cashflow difficulties to their suppliers.“

Therefore, the ARC is calling on Christians to pray for dairy farmers who are suffering from financial hardship. The charity has suggested a prayer to support dairy farmers (see right).

“British Dairy farmers are facing an exceptionally difficult time so we are calling on churches to pray for the industry,” said Reverend Elizabeth Clark, national rural officer for the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.

“Give thanks for the vital food that dairy farmers produce, pray for those struggling because of the present low prices and pray especially for those farmers who sell their milk to First Milk whose pay cheques have been delayed.”

Canon Dr Jill Hopkinson, national rural officer for the Church of England, said church members and the public could show their support for the British dairy industry by looking out for the Red Tractor logo when buying dairy products, such as milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt.

“Church members could also show their support through choosing to buy milk from supermarkets that pay a fair price to farmers,” added Dr Hopkinson.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Institute (WI) said consumers have “real power” to bring about change to support British dairy farmers.

“Ninety-six percent of us consume fresh milk but few of us recognise its real value. By backing British farmers we can ensure that the British dairy industry remains strong and that we can access high-quality, high-welfare, locally produced dairy for years to come,” the WI said.