FFA undeterred by Asda threats

FARMERS FOR Action chairman David Handley has said Asda‘s threat of legal action against farmers protesting outside its distribution depots has left members undeterred.

Mr Handley told FARMERS WEEKLY that the group had “virtually decided” that it would be protesting again shortly.

“We feel that if it [Asda] wants to go ahead with action then it can. If that is what it takes to show that farmers are struggling to make a living then so be it,” he said.

Mr Handley added that he believed Asda was the right target for action, even though the supermarket claims it is not.

This was because its decision to make Arla its sole supplier had set off a chain of events in the milk market that had hit producers hard, he said.

Solicitors acting on behalf of Asda, have sent letters to 28 FFA members which explain that unless they stop protesting at Asda sites, legal proceedings will be started.

The letters, delivered by courier last Friday (Nov 19), claim FFA is causing Asda, which is owned by the world‘s largest retailer Wal-Mart, significant disruption and losses.

They warn that unless protests cease the supermarket will take out an injunction against the farmers and may sue them for any losses incurred.

A spokesman for the retailer said the letters were a last resort and added that it was unfair of Mr Handley to suggest that Asda was using bully-boy tactics by sending them.

“We‘ve been talking to FFA for months now about milk prices, but we are the only major supermarket to back up our words with actions,” he said.

“Only recently we announced that the price we pay for our milk will increase by 0.5p/litre. By contrast, other retailers continue to pay less.

“The frustration we have is that we have guys protesting that are not supplying Asda.

“We don‘t have a relationship with the 14,000 dairy farmers who don‘t supply us with milk.”