Wiseman finally withdraws milk price cuts

Robert Wiseman Dairies has withdrawn its planned August milk price cut following a night of blockades by dairy farmers.

It means the price paid by Wiseman for a standard litre will remain at 26.43p/litre. The company had intended to reduce its standard litre price by 1.7p/litre to 24.73p/litre on 1 August.

The news emerged at lunchtime on Friday (27 July).

A statement by Wiseman said the decision took account of concerns raised by farmers since it announced the planned 1.7p/litre reduction its ex-farm price.

“We have been engaging with our customers with regards to the exceptional circumstances facing the supply chain and the need for urgent and significant support,” the statement said.

“From our discussions to date, we are confident this support will now be demonstrated.”

The statement said Wiseman welcomed recognition of the difficulties facing farmers – including the acknowledgement that fresh milk processors were under severe financial pressure.

“We have confidence that we can work with our customers and farmers to address the obvious challenges that exist,” the statement said.

Wiseman had faced intense pressure after becoming the last remaining major dairy processor intending to press ahead with farmgate price cuts.

Dairy Crest, Arla, and First Milk all withdrew their price cuts on Thursday (27 July).

Its stance saw Wiseman targeted by hundreds of dairy farmers, with protests co-ordinated by Farmers For Action seeking to shut down its entire processing network.

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

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.

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.

“Farmers, their families and shoppers have supported this campaign to see a fair price paid to our dairy farmers,” said NFU president Peter Kendall.

“It has been an amazing show of strength and support.”

The coalition is now calling for retailers Iceland and Farmfoods to ensure they start to pay a price to their milk suppliers that covers the cost of production.They are also turning their attention to middle-ground dairy processors.

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.”

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