Stop bitching over sharing milk prices, says Handley

British dairy farmers should “stop bitching” about having to share milk price increases with other producers across Europe, protest leader David Handley has said.

Mr Handley was speaking after a number of supermarket chains agreed to pay farmer-owned co-operative Arla more for liquid milk bought from British producers.

Under the co-op model, all Arla’s farmers receive the same price per litre.

This means the co-operative’s 3,500 British farmers have to share any price increases with 10,000 or so European farmers who are also Arla members.

See also: Farm leaders in dairy talks with ministers

Urging producers to stand together, Mr Handley said there had been “a lot of negative comments” about where the returns from any price increases were going.

“Negative comments regarding Arla or any other dairy producer group achieve nothing,” he said.

“We have to forget the differences and focus totally on the job in hand and that is a sustainable milk price for every dairy farmer who continues to produce milk in this country.”

In recent days, Morrisons, Asda and Aldi have all increased the price they pay for liquid milk.

The increases follow supermarket protests led by young farmers, with talks between retail representatives and an industry working group representing dairy producers.

The working group involves the NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, Farmers For Action, the Tenant Farmers Association and the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers.

Mr Handley added: “Sometimes there will be winners and losers, but believe you me within Farmers For Action and others within the group the intention is to deliver to all.”

“So again I say please everyone, drop the negative comments and just get behind the campaign.”

Mr Handley said he had “just one comment to those Arla producers who are bitching over the fact that they have to share their money with 10,000 other European dairy farmers”.

He added: “You read the contract and you signed it, you knew what you were doing.

“Remember the majority of you jumped on this bandwagon because you thought that the European milk price was going to be better than the UK price.”

“Currently that may not be the case but I am sure when the market turns around none of you will be making negative comments when those 10,000 dairy producers’ prices rise and you benefit from that.

The comments were made in a post by Mr Handley on the Farmers For Action website.

He said: “Do not share your issues on social media, if you are not happy then ring your Arla representative and resign your contract.”

Mr Handley said he wanted to assure everyone that the industry working group was trying to drive prices up for all British milk producers.

Although it might seem slow progress, in the coming days all British dairy farmers would start to see a benefit from the hard work by the group and young farmers, he said.

Meanwhile Mr Handley has written an open letter, blasting so-called armchair experts for their views on how to improve the situation for milk producers. The letter is in PDF format.

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