Big turnout at demo reveals dairymens fears
By Robert Davies
ALMOST 200 angry milk producers from north Wales and neighbouring English counties packed a protest meeting at Ruabon, Clwyd.
It was arranged by three members of the Wrexham Dairy Group, and was chaired by Terrig Morgan, vice-chairman of the NFUs national milk committee. Mr Morgan said that the turn-out demonstrated producers growing fears about their futures in the industry.
Keith Thompson, Gardden Hall, Ruabon, one of the organisers, said he was determined to fight to save the business he established 12 years ago. But greedy and ruthless supermarkets were driving down the value of liquid milk. At the same time processors were doing all they could to pay less for their raw material.
Price not good enough
"We have to unite to show that the price we are getting is not good enough to keep us in business," Mr Thompson said.
Richard Smith, chairman of the Northern Milk Partnership, agreed that unless something was done many producers would not survive. He praised "the brilliant job" done by demonstrators who had made supermarkets stop and think about sourcing meat. It was time to let everybody involved know that the milk price was too low to sustain the industry.
"Write letters to politicians, they do have an impact. Get the secretary of your grassland society, or discussion group to do the same. We have to stand together, falling out will do us no good."
Richard Tomlinson, Parkside Farm, Rossett, Wrexham, who sells to CWS, said every farmer who is supplying milk direct to a dairy, should terminate their contract as of Oct 30. This would have a devastating effect on the stability of every dairy business in the country and would allow milk producer groups six months to restructure to cope with the extra litres.
"The last thing that dairies want is for producers to combine into larger regional groups, not with 50m litres but with 500m litres plus, and with professional people at the top to negotiate with the dairies."
Buyers could not ignore mass resignations, their shareholders would not let them. *