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UK Dairy farmers to protest amid milk price turmoil
January 14, 2015

Turmoil in the dairy sector is having a ‘massive’ knock-on effect on farmers, their families and their workforce.

Phil Turnbull, who has been milking cows for more than 25 years, said farmers could not continue producing milk if prices continued to fall and payments were deferred.

Last week Mr Turnbull lost his job milking for a Cheshire farmer who could not afford to pay his staff.

“I have been juggling part-time work with caring for my elderly mother who has dementia,” said Mr Turnbull.

“I do not want to claim benefits. I am self-employed and I’m sure there are many in the same position as me.

“Effectively we are creating a product and being paid less than the cost of production – it can’t go on like this.”

Mr Turnbull said he would be holding a peaceful protest outside Muller’s Market Drayton plant tomorrow morning (Wednesday, 6am-7am) and urged others to join him.

“I want to embarrass Muller [and other processors who have slashed their milk price]. Because of their actions farmers are under massive financial pressure.

“We don’t want to blockade them but we will drive machinery slowly on the bypass near the plant – all in accordance with the law. All we want is for farmers to be paid a fair price and to be paid on time.

“I don’t believe people can pay for two weeks of food for Christmas but can’t afford to pay more for their milk.”

Last week Muller confirmed its standard milk price for February 2015 would be unchanged

However, Muller said it could not rule out future cuts to reflect the poor returns from cream and butter products, in order for it to remain competitive.

Yesterday (Monday) Farmers For Action leader David Handley warned there could be as few as 5,000 UK dairy farmers within five years if the industry did not seek to rectify current price issues.

Speaking at the Semex dairy conference in Glasgow, Mr Handley said the last 18 months had seen dairy farmers go from ‘princes to paupers’.

It comes after First Milk bosses chose to ‘defer’ the January 12 milk cheque amid mounting problems for the business.

The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers called on the First Milk board to be ‘honest and up front’ with its communications with members, many of whom have been left uncertain of the future of their dairy farming businesses.

RABDF chairman Ian Macalpine said: “First Milk’s member businesses are being put under enormous stress with crucial decision making with banks and suppliers, both for the short and long term.

“Consequently, they need accurate information in order to make these decisions; they also need to be reassured that they will continue to have a milk buyer.”

 

Source: Farmers Guardian


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