GROUPS of dairy farmers fed up with falling farm gate prices have been clearing cartons of milk from supermarket shelves across the country in protest.
Fed up dairymen have been removing milk from shops including Morrisons and Lidl and either paying for it and taking it away or dumping it at the checkout in a protest dubbed the ‘Milk Trolley Challenge’.
Arla, Britain’s biggest milk co-operative, has just cut the milk price to its UK members by 0.8 pence per litre (ppl), taking the standard litre price to 23.01ppl.
It costs 30-32p to produce each litre of milk, according to British dairy organisation AHDB Dairy, with the current price falls down to reduced global demand and an oversupply of milk.
Last week, farmers emptied milk from supermarket shelves including Morrisons and Lidl in Yate, Gloucestershire, and at two Morrisons shops in Bude, Cornwall over the weekend. There have also been reports of protests in Northern Ireland, where prices are 19ppl on average.
Meurig Raymond, president of the NFU, said: “The market situation in dairy, lamb and many other products is driving farming families to a desperate state with returns from the market failing to cover costs of production.
“The NFU supports protests that have a proper target and a clear objective. However, we believe that the best way for farmers to get a fairer return would be for consumers to demand British food.”
Whitby dairy farmer Tom Cummins said: “The dairy companies have led us on to produce more milk, banks and politicians have convinced us that China and Russia are forever hungry for our dairy produce and yet we’re left with all this produce.”
Darren Blackhurst, Morrisons Group commercial director, said: “Morrisons is not accepting any further cost price decreases from our suppliers driven by the falling farm gate milk price.”
A spokeswoman for Lidl said: “Our cost prices are in no way linked to our retail prices and any reductions in retail prices are absorbed by Lidl.”