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Farmers' show of strength over milk cuts

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 06, 2012

Dairy farmer
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A crisis meeting of farming unions has called for the immediate reversal of the milk price cuts imposed on farmers since April 1.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) chaired the meeting of leaders from NFU Scotland, NFU Wales, the Tenant Farmers Association and Farmers for Action, who came together in an industry show of strength after a catastrophic three months for the sector.

The representatives called for all milk price cuts imposed on farmers since the start of the financial year to be reversed by August 1.

The unions have also called on farmers to show their strength of feeling by turning out in force at a summit in London on Wednesday, leaving retailers, MPs, processors and the public in no doubt about the scale of the problem.

The summit will tackle the need for retailers working with processors to take responsibility for a sustainable supply chain which returns at least a cost of production for dairy farmers.

A joint statement said: "The catastrophic cuts will drive farmers out of the dairy industry and we are united in our demand for an immediate reversal of recent and planned cuts. There has been an unprecedented outcry of anger and frustration among farmers. We want to harness that strength of feeling and bring together farmers from across England, Scotland and Wales to express their feelings in London next week.

"Farmers have told us they will do whatever it takes to stand up against these cuts. There is a window of opportunity to progress a robust voluntary code of practice, but we shall also be exploring a regulatory solution from the Government."

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  • sweeney2010  |  July 09 2012, 3:03PM

    What a great shame we cannot buy milk at the farm gate and cut out these middlemen profiteers.

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  • maddogwoman  |  July 08 2012, 4:14PM

    I can see your thinking Nick113 but you are incorrect in your theory. Production remains constant throughout the year. The only thing that changes in the Summer is that more of that milk is produced using grass, rather than bought in feed. Let me explain. Dairy companies at the begining of the year will know how much milk they need each month to fulfill their contracts with the various retailers. In practice this quantity is the same each month. They then set out a monthly profile for producers to cover this requirement. This again tends to be about the same amount each month and is known as a level profile. If a farmer produces to much or to little milk, the dairy companies have to compensate by either selling the extra on the open market, at a much reduced rate, or by buying in the missing milk, again at a reduced rate. Either way there is added transport and admin costs, so to prevent these fluctuations they deduct money from the farmers price per litre to encourage them to keep to their level profile. I agree if you want to help the farmer, buy more milk, but also think about the costs. Av retail price is 59 pence per litre. 25 pence goes to the farmer, 34 pence is split between the dairy companies and supermarkets. The cost to produce that litre of milk is 29 pence per litre, therefore the farmers are losing 4 pence per litre. That equates to a loss of £40.000 a year to the average farmer. Not many business' can sustain that sort of loss for long without going bust.

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  • nick113  |  July 08 2012, 6:58AM

    Don't wholesale milk prices always go down in the summer because production increases? The grass in my back garden is certainly growing fast. The point is that in summer milk supply exceeds demand. If readers want to do something to help farmers they should go down to the shops and buy some milk, bring it home and have a plate of cornflakes.

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  • toffer99  |  July 06 2012, 2:42PM

    Turning out for a "Summit" won't make a blind bit of difference. Farmers will only get attention to their problems if they follow the example of the French farmers and get tough. Empty a few dozen churns of milk onto the floor of the House of Commons. Tip a wagon load of slurry near its entrance. Drive a dozen cows into each of the headquarters of the major supermarkets. Release a bull into Downing Street. A few of you will probably go to jail, after all you get jailed for stealing bottled water now, but you'll get some attention paid to your case and the public will be on your side.

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