Kiss and make up, judge tells Asda and farm leaders

Farm leaders and supermarket bosses have been urged to resolve differences that led to retail giant Asda taking out an injunction to curb milk price protests.

Asda, Tesco and Morrisons have all angered farmers by selling milk for the equivalent of 25p a pint, packaging it in “two for £2” poly-bottles each containing 2.272 litres. Sainsbury’s is selling single 2.272-litre poly-bottles for £1.

But it was Asda bosses who took out an injunction against members of the Farmers For Action (FFA) pressure group to “prevent any unlawful contact which disrupts the activities of any Asda property” after demonstrations by dairy producers.

The injunction was renewed against seven Farmers For Action members during a hearing at Leeds Crown Court on 7 January. But it was dropped against all other FFA protesters and both sides were urged to reach an agreement.

Judge Roger Kaye also adjourned the case until 21 January to allow more evidence from FFA leader David Handley, who confirmed there would be no FFA protests organised in the next month.

Mr Handley said the FFA and Asda had “exchanged documentation” but had progressed no further. “We will have to decide whether to come up with some compromise or whether we decide to fight this all the way.”

As far as the wider milk price issue was concerned, Mr Handley said discussions were continuing with several retailers and discounters. “We are getting some favourable comments in return, but these have not translated into higher prices yet.”

Asda, meanwhile, shows no signs of reversing its decision to undercut other major retailers on prices. Its latest campaign guarantees that in-store and online shoppers will be able buy comparable groceries 10% cheaper that its rivals.