Farmers protest at milk price cuts

Angry dairy producers are planning to target Arla Food’s biggest customer following the milk processor’s 0.9p/litre price cut announced last week.

A group of Arla suppliers from Shropshire will be handing out leaflets to shoppers outside Asda stores in the area on 23 February, and are hoping that the protest will spread to other parts of the county.

The group’s leader, who did not want to be named for fear of action by Arla, said the aim would not be to intimidate people but to inform them of the issues facing farmers and to let shoppers know that recent increases in the shelf price of milk had not benefited them.

“Asda thinks we’re all happy with the situation but we’re not.

Prices in its stores have gone up but ours have gone down.”

Chris Brown, agricultural manager at Asda, said he would not comment on the protests until they happened.

But he denied that he was unaware of the situation facing farmers.

“I visit a lot of farms,” he said.

Members of the Arla Foods Milk Partnership, which supplies 80% of Arla’s milk, were also critical of the group’s leadership for agreeing to the price cut, which it said was necessary because of a fall in cream values.

In an open letter to AFMP chairman Jonathan Ovens, Staffs producers Chris and Janette Price said: “Thank you for your letter containing the most disappointing news.

The content leads me to question where AFMP stands in regard to support of their producers in the supply of British milk.”

Milk quota broker Ian Potter Associates said over 30 Arla suppliers had emailed the business to voice their anger.

Some farmers who contacted Farmers Weekly suggested that the partnership should use its muscle and withhold milk from Arla.

Mr Ovens said he still believed negotiation was the best way forward but admitted that some farmers might choose other options if he couldn’t deliver.

For details of the Asda protest contact Andrew Bebb on 07811 779 557.