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Dairy farmers fight on after code agreement
Milk price protests will continue.
DAIRY farmers have vowed to continue staging protests until cuts in the price they receive for their milk are reversed.
Terms for a voluntary dairy code of conduct were agreed during talks between farmers and processors brokered by Farming Minister Jim Paice at the Royal Welsh Show.
The dairy coalition welcomed that move but insisted protests and demonstrations would continue until the cuts are reversed.
The second cut of 2ppl was due to take effect from August 1 and would see many farmers receive up to 6p per litre less than the 30ppl average cost of production.
The coalition is made up of the NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Wales, the TFA, RABDF and Farmers For Action.
The plight of dairy farmers – at the hands of some supermarkets and processors – has won widespread support from MPs, the WI and the general public.
Peter Kendall, NFU president, said the response was “amazing”.
Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer have been praised for having contracts which take into account the cost of production.
Morrisons have now increased their price by 2ppl plus an extra 3ppl in recognition of the extreme weather affecting dairy farmers. The payments will be reviewed at the end of October.
The Co-op increased its price by an immediate 2.57ppl, rising to 4.27ppl from August 1, giving a total of 29ppl.
As The Northern Farmer went to press, Asda announced that it will pay 29.5ppl from August 1 until the end of the year.
Mr Kendall said: “We now need to see all retailers and major buyers of milk stepping up to the plate and we will start to turn the spotlight on the rest of the catering, food and retail sectors, including the discount supermarkets, who collectively buy sizeable volumes of milk and whom I have written to and spoken with in the past few days.”
Marylin Haines-Evans, chairman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes’ public affairs committee, said: “We are calling on all WI members – and the general public – to get behind our farmers, and we encourage members to ask retailers to step up to the challenge and take responsibility for dairy farmer suppliers.
“The long-term viability of the dairy industry is being compromised and the WI is not prepared to stand by and watch this happen.”
The draft code of conduct states that farmers must receive 30 days’ notice of a price change and says retrospective price adjustments are no longer acceptable.
Where a purchaser wishes to use their discretion to set farm gate milk prices, they would have to talk to farmers and their representatives, commit to maintain prices within agreed parameters and, where a farmer disagrees with a price change, give him the right to leave the contract with three months’ notice.
Other conditions include allowing farmers to supply more than one processor where their main buyer seeks to cap their production, and the right to automatic contractual release for producers from insolvent purchasers.
The Environment Food and Rural Affairs select committee chairman, Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk, Malton and Filey, has written to Jim Paice expressing its “deep concern” about the current crisis.
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