Midlands farmers stage latest milk protests

Farmers and their families are staging a further protest at Dairy Crest’s plant at Foston in Derbyshire as milk price demonstrations move into their seventh day.

The protest comes after farm leaders warned the focus of campaigning activities is shifting away from the major retailers and onto the milk processors, in a bid to reverse planned price cuts by 1 August.

It follows demonstrations at Arla in Ashby-de-la Zouch and an Asda depot at Magna Park in Leicestershire on Tuesday night (24 July).

Earlier on Wednesday (24 July), 200 Staffordshire dairy farmers marched through Uttoxeter as the next stage of their battle for a fairer deal at the farmgate.

The farmers, supported by the NFU, were accompanied by a convoy of vintage and modern farm vehicles as they battle for a better dairy deal following crippling price cuts.

While there has been some progress on price and contracts, the union says more action is needed as many dairy farmers are still being paid below the cost of production for their milk.

NFU vice president Adam Quinney, who farms near Redditch, joined the marchers and was due to address the group from Uttoxeter High Street.

Third generation farmer David Brookes who milks 160 cows at Lower Loxley, near Uttoxeter, said he hoped the milk march would be a real show of support for the sector.

He said: “We have had a phenomenal response so far from farmers who are very anxious about the future and the public has also backed us which is very humbling.

“Farmers are rightly worried because everything they have built up over many generations could collapse before their eyes so we need to see fairer milk prices and contracts so we can survive.

“We are trying to remain positive during a very difficult time but at the moment the market is skewed against us and that needs to change.

“We have seen some movement on prices and contracts but we need to keep the campaigning going and the march will help us to press home the case.”

NFU regional director John Mercer said: “More work still needs to be done on the short term issues for the industry, particularly as the farm gate milk price remains below the cost of production for many.

Mr Mercer welcomed this week’s agreement on the framework for a code of practice to oversee contracts between farmers and milk processors.

But he warned: “We need short term answers on price to ensure we still have dairy farmers when the code eventually comes in.”

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