Farmers For Action has reacted to threats of legal action from Asda with a demonstration at one of their stores on the run up to the Christmas break.
A group of about 20 producers descended on the Asda superstore at Minworth, near Sutton Coldfield on 21 Dec in order to highlight the plight of dairy farmers among customers.
On 22 Dec farmers were planning to stage a similar event at a store in Hampshire.
As they talked to shoppers producers handed out copies of a letter threatening legal action, which FFA chairman David Handley and two of his members were sent by Asda’s solicitors on 14 Dec in response to farmer protests at a distribution depot.
They also gave customers an information sheet about the state of the dairy industry, free mince pies and samples of milk. As one farmer involved said: “We might as well give the milk away to consumers, as sell it.”
Mr Handley said the decision to hand out copies of the solicitor’s letter had been taken to show consumers “what our Christmas present from Asda looks like”.
He told Farmers Weekly that the Minworth protest had been fantastic as the response from shoppers had been very supportive.
“It goes to prove that talking to consumers, works. We have got to more of this,” he said.
Mr Handley added that if Asda took legal action as a result of the protest, he was ready for his day in court. “No solicitor’s letter is going to stop us,” he said.
A spokeswoman from Asda said the solicitor’s letters had been issued following years’ of dialogue and had been sent by the company “as a last resort”.
She claimed that the FFA did not represent the farmers that actually supplied Asda with their milk, so the company felt that the protests were unjustified.
But asked whether the company would take action against FFA for the protests at the stores, the spokeswoman said she thought that was “highly unlikely”. This was because they were peaceful demonstrations involving just a few producers.