Philip Case wrote a good FWI report of the latest Muller Wiseman milk protest. Read it in full here.
At least 500 dairy farmers, their families and friends staged a protest against falling milk prices outside the Muller Wiseman processing factory in Market Drayton on Monday night (6 October) to demonstrate their anger over plunging farmgate milk prices. They blockaded the Muller plant from 9pm onwards and prevented lorries from accessing the site.
Lobby group Farmers For Action (FFA), which represents about one-third of the UK’s dairy farmers, organised the protest and said more dairy processors and supermarkets would be targeted in the coming weeks.
FFA chief executive and Monmouthshire dairy farmer David Handley said talks had broken down between the two parties and protesting was the only course of action to move things forward. bcg“How he [Ronald Kers of Muller] can turn round and classify the milk group he was talking to for 45 minutes on the phone on Sunday as a bunch of militants is outrageous,” Mr Handley told Farmers Weekly.
“It’s inflammatory language and it’s not helpful. During our conversations over the past week, he mentioned at least two or three times that farmers were producing too much milk. But what he doesn’t tell the media is the state of the profit and loss accounts within the business of Muller Wiseman.” See and hear more on the Farmers Guardian video here.
Mr Handley urged Muller Wiseman to:
- guarantee no further price cuts this year “unless they could be justified with numbers and open-book accountancy”;
- re-examine all the cuts month by month and show farmers “where the money has gone and why” and
- work with retailers to increase the value of milk up the supply chain.
Mr Handley said up to and including the 1 November cuts, dairy farmers should be owed an extra 4p/litre, according to FFA figures. On average, the cost of production for a litre of milk is 30p.
Though the NFU said some dairy farmers were being paid as little as 25p/litre, losing thousands of pounds and threatening their businesses, the union said it would not be backing direct action against retailers and processors.
An NFU spokesman said: “The NFU continues to talk with processors, supermarkets and government. We remain committed to fighting for functioning markets and fairer contracts. “This ultimately is the best way to achieve farmgate milk prices that fairly reflect the value of milk.”
Dairy analyst Ian Potter questioned why farming unions and the main dairy processors, including Muller, had urged farmers to increase milk production earlier this year:
“Up until this year, Muller were paying a bonus to new recruits and existing producers to produce more milk. If you ring up Muller now, you’ve got no chance of getting a contract, no matter how special you are. We have gone very quickly from asking for new recruits to saying: ‘how quickly can we get rid of you?’”
Earlier today the BBC reported last night’s milk protest in Bridgwater, Somerset More than 50 tractors were blocking two entrances to the Morrisons distribution centre near Bridgwater in Somerset, several Morrisons vehicles were stuck at the depot and the protest was affecting the A38 into Bridgwater and junction 23 of the M5, and diversions were in place.