Dairy farmers in sit-down protest at Arla plant

Dairy farmers staged a sit-down protest outside an Arla Foods milk processing plant to block lorries leaving the site as the row rumbles on over milk price cuts.

About 150 farmers blockaded the site at Stourton on Tuesday (24 July) calling for a higher price to be paid for their milk.

Dairy farmer’s son John Graham, from Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire said farmers sat down outside the plant after police threatened to arrest them to break up the protest.

“The police were using a loud hailer to try and get a message through to us, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying,” he said.

“They wanted to split the crowd to let the lorries through, so we all sat down.

“Once we sat down they were powerless to do anything. They would have had to move us physically one by one.”

Dairy farmer John Chapman, from Easby, near Middlesborough added: “The police tried to move us, so we all sat down. They couldn’t do anything.

“They told us afterwards that they were expecting things to kick off, but nothing happened.”

Mr Graham said the protest was good natured and reports of a stand-off with police were “wide of the mark”.

“It was not a nasty meet at all,” he said. “There were families with children carrying posters saying, ‘please pay my daddy a fair price for milk’.”

“Once we sat down they were powerless to do anything. They would have had to move us physically one by one.”
Protestor John Graham

Dairy farmers are furious over plans to cut the amount they receive for their milk by 2p/litre from 1 August from major milk processing suppliers, including Arla.

“The 2p/litre cuts will cripple dairy farmers and they have to reversed before 1 August, or it will be a helluva lot harder to put it back on,” said Mr Graham.

West Yorkshire Police said no arrests were made and the protest ended peacefully around midnight.

It was the second time that the site had been targeted in the last week after around 400 protesters assembled outside the plant on 19 July.

Dairy processing plants were also blockaded in Market Drayton and Leicestershire on Tuesday (24 July). And an Asda depot was blockaded at the Magna Park retail distribution centre, Lutterworth.

The protests were held a day after a draft deal was agreed between dairy farmers and milk processors in a bid to end the bitter dispute.

(Picture courtesy of Judith Chapman)

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