Milk price protesters target Wiseman dairies

Protesting farmers are targeting Robert Wiseman Dairies as the last remaining major processor refusing to reverse milk price cuts.

Hundreds of farmers were out in force as the Farmers For Action pressure group blockaded dairies from Bridgwater in Somerset to Bellshill in Scotland.

The protests follow a day in which Dairy Crest and First Milk both withdrew milk price cuts due on 1 August.

Arla confirmed it too was withdrawing its 1 August price late on Thursday (26 July).

It leaves Wiseman as the last major dairy processor intending to reduce the money it pays farmers for milk on 1 August.

Farmers For Action reported by Twitter that all three of Wiseman’s depots in Scotland were shut at 8.03pm on Thursday (26 July).

Some 150 farmers, supporters and tractors gathered with their families and children at the Bellshill facility in Lanarkshire.

Shortly afterwards Farmers For Action reported that Wiseman depot had also shut at Market Drayton (Shropshire); and Droitwich Spa (Worcestershire).

The Robert Wiseman facility at Trafford Park, Greater Manchester,  was also targeted in the night of protests.

A coalition of farming groups was formed earlier this month to fight the cuts.

It brought together the NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, the Tenant Farmers’ Association, Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers and Farmers For Action.

The NFU said Wiseman should commit to reversing its intended price cuts.

It should follow the lead of several major supermarket chains that had announced commitments on milk pricing in recent days, said NFU president Peter Kendall.

“Farmers, their families and shoppers have supported this campaign to see a fair price paid to our dairy farmers. It has been an amazing show of strength and support.

“I’m really pleased that farmer co-op First Milk has shown huge leadership and resolve today in sticking its neck out and announcing it will rescind its planned milk price cuts from 1 August.

“Dairy Crest has followed by announcing a deferral of its planned cuts although it’s important to see this made permanent.”

The coalition is also calling for retailers Iceland and Farmfoods to ensure they start to pay a price to their milk suppliers that covers the cost of production.

Mr Kendall said: “I believe only with all areas of the supply chain playing their part can we turn this situation around.

“I am committed to ensuring our dairy farmers have a secure future and we will continue to work extremely hard on the challenges that lie ahead.”

Earlier, a spokesman for Robert Wiseman Dairies told Farmers’ Weekly the company fully understood the strength of feeling among dairy producers.

“It is important to stress we are not in a position to fund a milk price at the level it was prior to the global collapse in the value of cream,” the spokesman said.

“It is our hope that the market for liquid milk and bulk cream which is at the core of this issue will quickly find a balance which will allow us to return improved prices to farmers.