Farm groups gear up for milk prices action plan

Farm industry leaders are set to discuss the next phase of the campaign for fairer milk prices.

A meeting of the coalition of farmer groups is due to take place at the NFU’s headquarters in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, at 1pm on 31 July.

A temporary halt to protests is expected to be central to discussions following the decision by the main dairy buyers, including Dairy Crest, First Milk, Arla Foods and Robert Wiseman Dairies, to reverse milk price cuts planned for 1 August.

Also likely to be up for discussion is the formation of milk Producer Organisations.

EU law allows for up to 33% of a Member State’s milk production to be marketed by a Producer Organisation and industry leaders are eyeing the regulation as a way to gain more bargaining power at future price negotiations.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Farmers For Action vice chairman Andrew Hemming said: “We are going to have a few days now where we are going to ask questions (of milk producers and supermarkets) and hope that we will get the right answers.

“We are now going to monitor the processors, asking the questions of their customers. All the processors must make sure that everybody is getting a fair price.”

Mr Hemming said one of the main aims was to get assurances from milk buyers that farmers would receive a fair price for their milk before 1 October and going into the winter.

“We have got to be talking about a realistic price for dairy farmers, which reflects the current high costs of production,” he said. “A reversal in the earlier cuts of May/June is a top priority.”

“The blockades have come to a temporary standstill, but they could return and target any producers or organisations who we believe are not giving farmers a fair deal.”

The Tenant Farmers Association national vice-chairman Stephen Wyrill added: “There is still much to be achieved. The work of the coalition of farming organisations will continue to achieve a much better basis for the long-term marketing of milk”.

But he added: “While we have seen the removal of the threat of the August price reductions, there is still the issue of the May price reductions to discuss as well as putting flesh on the bones of the heads of terms agreed for the voluntary code. The discussions on those will start right away.”

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