Farmers’ fury at Wiseman stance on milk price cuts

Farmers For Action chairman David Handley has blasted processor Robert Wiseman Dairies for the its stubborn refusal to reverse milk price cuts.

Mr Handley joined 350 dairy farmers in a protest at the company’s Bridgwater site in Somerset.

The crowd used 20 tractors and other vehicles to block the site’s entrance in a vigil which ended at 3am on Friday (27 July).

During the night Mr Handley announced Wiseman’s remaining ally in standing fast on milk price cuts, Arla, had withdrawn its proposed 1.65p/litre cut.

He told protesters: “It feels like justice is finally being done and proves that our action bears fruit. Wiseman is now the sole rotten egg among all the liquid processors.

“With all the other main players caving in, Wiseman cannot hold out much longer. However, we can’t relax for one minute – we will keep the pressure on night after night until we get the result we require.”

Well past midnight Mr Handley was in heated telephone negotiations with Muller Wiseman’s chief finance officer who steadfastly refused to back-track on the company’s 1.7p/litre August price cut and the 2p/litre cut imposed in June.

“We will battle to ensure all producers are returned the money they are owed and, yes, that means the processors back-dating payments.”

Mr Handley also had an interesting proposal for the gathered crowd: “We cannot take our foot off the gas and we must ensure this never happens again so we need to sew up contracts that actually mean something with fair notice periods.”

He added: “We also need to get prices up from below the cost of production to a point where we are making enough money to re-invest in our businesses.

“If we can’t achieve that I propose that dairy farmers across the country unite and on a given day hand in their notice wholesale.

“That way these big companies will have to sit up and think about how the treat their suppliers.”

The blockade continued well past 3am when the tractors finally moved off to allow the queues of black-and-white lorries through to the plant.

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