Shoppers back milk price protest

Dairy farmers are claiming strong public support for their campaign against falling milk prices after holding a series of supermarket protests last week.

In the Midlands, milk producers and their supporters braved atrocious weather to lobby shoppers outside seven Asda stores.

The action was prompted by Arla Foods’ recent 0.9p/litre price cut and was targeted at Asda because it is the milk processor’s biggest customer.

Protest co-ordinator Andrew Bebb said: “We had an absolutely brilliant response from shoppers, they couldn’t believe the low prices we get paid for our milk.”

Free milk supplied by the West Felton Village Dairy and sponsored by Wynnstay Farmers was distributed outside Asda’s Shrewsbury branch where local MP Daniel Kawczynski also lent his support.

“Housewife after housewife was asking where they could get locally sourced milk,” said Mr Bebb.

More than 800 consumers filled in a questionnaire during the protests asking them if they thought farmers were paid a fair price for their milk and 100% said no, said Mr Bebb.

The vast majority said they would shop elsewhere if it meant farmers getting a better deal, he added.

Arla supplier and protester Charlie Sandells said the day had been a great success in boosting public support but it was unfortunate there were not more protests across England.

“We got fantastic coverage in local newspapers and on the television but I think it was a missed opportunity.

If the whole nation had backed us the impact would have made it very hard for supermarkets and processors not to improve prices.”

However, some farmers in Scotland and Northern Ireland did join the protests.

Farmers for Action’s William Taylor said they decided to picket the retailer’s Coleraine branch because of the knock-on potential Arla’s cut could have.

“We were out in sympathy with you guys. Maybe United Dairies will be the next to cut, we want to stop the domino effect.”

However, an Asda spokeswoman said: “We have had a lot of support from our farmers saying that protesting outside Asda is simply knocking on the wrong door.”