Handley hammers producer ‘apathy’

Farmers For Action leader David Handley has lambasted dairy producers for their apathy and a “not-my-problem” attitude that manifests itself in grumbles over falling milk prices but no support for direct action.

“In the last six months there’s been no direct action because producers haven’t turned out,” he told a crisis meeting of over 350 producers at Market Drayton market, Shropshire, convened on 10 August after local processors Muller and Joseph Heler cut milk prices.

“When Arla cut its price we joined with the NFU to protest and out of 4000 producers contacted only 31 turned out.

It’s an embarrassment when you can’t represent yourselves.

“Who’d be prepared to pour milk away for three days?” he asked.

A few hands were raised.

“Who’d terminate contracts tomorrow?”

Fewer hands were shown.

“Who’d go from this meeting and blockade Tesco… for the next five days?”

Even fewer hands.

“So what do you want to do,” he asked?

Producers at the meeting were divided on how to tackle the milk price issue.

Local producer Roly Tavernor believed the issue wasn’t helped by fragmented representation.

“There’s no single body that represents all dairy producers – that’s a problem,” he said.

Jonathan Slater of Calverhall, Shropshire, who helped organise the meeting, warned that the impact of the latest milk price cuts hadn’t been felt yet and moods would harden this winter.

“If we go into winter with low forage stocks and have to pay for bought-in feed it will hit finances.

Then producers will shout.”