Dairy UK chief hits out at milk producers who strike

Strike action by dairy farmers will not lead to an increase in the farm gate price of milk, David Curry, chairman of Dairy UK, has warned producers.

Mr Curry said that while everyone working within the dairy supply chain appreciated and sympathised with the frustration felt by many producers, the harsh reality is that strikes by farmers could not lead to co-ordinated price increases.

“The incessant and rigorous scrutiny by the competition authorities means that co-ordinated prices increases are not an option. They are illegal. We have all been reminded over the last few days how much scrutiny the dairy sector is under with the revelation that the OFT is investigating the previous attempt to raise prices on a coordinated basis,” said Mr Curry.

“No matter how sympathetic we feel towards the position of farmers, we must face up to the fact that there is no legal way in which co-ordinated milk prices increases can be agreed. Milk pricing in the UK will ultimately be the product of market driven competition. Increases in industry income can only come from improving our competitive position in the market place,” he added.

Farmers for Action chairman David Handley said he was “bloody angry” with Mr Curry’s remarks and suggested he “try and understand the reasoning behind these actions”. 

He also dismissed that the notion that an across-the-board rise in the farm gate price of milk was illegal. 

“The OFT have told us they don’t oppose agreed increases in the price farmers receive for their milk, but they do oppose collusion that impacts on the consumer. Mr Curry is more than welcome to join me in my meetings with the OFT to hear for himself.”