Dairy farmers stage Müller Wiseman milk protest

Farmers for Action has insisted there will be “no let up” in protests against supermarkets and the main dairy processors until milk prices rise.

In the latest demo, up to 80 dairy farmers and their families staged protests outside the the Müller Wiseman Dairies sites in Market Drayton, Shropshire, on Thursday night (12 September).

Police were on hand to manage the protest and Müller Wiseman decided to stop any deliveries to and from the site between 8.45pm on Thursday and around midnight on Friday (13 September).

Müller Wiseman described the direct action as “illegal and indiscriminate” and accused the FFA of causing “major disruption” to their fellow dairy farmers.

David Handley, chairman of the FFA, explained why the farmers had decided to target Müller.

“I talk to their farmer board chairman all the time. He has been telling me since July, ‘we are nearly there’ over milk price rises,” said Mr Handley.

“Then this week he rang me up and said their CEO Ronald Kers has told him that dairy farmers want milk price rises, but he’s still not prepared to give it.”

Dairy farmers are being paid an average of 31p/litre for their milk, but the FFA is calling for prices to rise to 35p/litre so farmers can cover the rising costs of production.

The FFA has also accused supermarkets and the main dairy processors of not passing on recent spikes in global dairy markets, which they say are at an “all-time high”.

Müller Wiseman announced earlier this month that its formula contract price is set to rise by 2.28p/litre to 34.55p/litre for the rest of the year from 1 October.

A spokesman for Müller Wiseman Dairies said: “Whilst we fully appreciate that farm costs have increased, farmers supplying Müller Wiseman Dairies will typically earn the equivalent of £66,000 per annum more for their milk compared with market returns at this point last year.

“They are also typically entitled to a £13,000 lump sum at the end of this year if they are able to increase their production.”

The spokesman added that further discussions were taking place with the elected farmer board to ensure that its pricing and contractual offering was appropriate as we head into the autumn and winter months.

“We are determined to maintain a leading milk price and we have a positive commitment to the competitiveness of our proposition,” he said.

“Despite this, militants have decided to ignore those in the industry who are neither competitive with their milk price nor compliant with the voluntary code of practice, and target our business.

“This illegal and indiscriminate action risks causing major disruption for employees and for dairy farmers who need milk to be collected from farms.”

The NFU is not supporting the protests and it has called for the milk price row to be settled by negotiations between farmers, dairy processors and supermarkets.

However, the FFA said it was planning further protests against an unnamed dairy processor and a supermarket early next week.

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More milk price protests planned, says FFA