Asda and Dairy Crest to face MPs over milk price cuts

Milk processor Dairy Crest and retail giant Asda have been called to appear before MPs following the second milk price cut in as many months.

The hearing before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will take place at 2.30pm on Tuesday (17 July).

The cross-party group of MPs will hear evidence from Mike Sheldon, Dairy Crest’s group milk procurement director, and Paul Kelly, Asda’s director of external affairs.

NFU dairy board chairman Mansel Raymond will also give evidence.

The committee said it was holding the hearing in response to recent announcements by the main milk processors of a second successive cut in the price of milk in as many months.

MPs will take evidence on current problems in the UK dairy sector to follow up on issues raised in the committee’s 2011 inquiry on the future of the dairy industry.

Up to 4p per litre has been wiped off farmgate milk prices following a series of cuts by Britain’s major processors. Other milk buyers have followed suit.

A coalition of farmers’ groups have pledged to take action unless dairy processors reverse the cuts in full by 1 August.

The coalition groups include the NFU, NFU Cymru Wales, NFU Scotland, the Tenant Farmers Association and Farmers For Action.

An update posted on the Farmers For Action website on Monday (16 July) said action would take place in “at least two areas” within the UK.

“We will not disclose the information until Wednesday [morning], when you will be given a postcode to show the meeting point,” it said.

“It is imperative that the action be peaceful and to our best ability within the law (see code of conduct), as this is just the start.

“It is our intention, along with our coalition partners, to ratchet up the pressure on both retailers and processors in the next 10 days.”

The NFU said it would back any plans to demonstrate peacefully outside processors and retailers involved in the latest round of cuts.

More on this topic

Read our dedicated page on the milk price protests.