Farmers more akin to being surrounded by cows are leaving behind the rolling fields to mingle with the general public in Sheffield city centre this week.
Members of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) will be on a mission to press home the value of milk in Fargate on Thursday to rally public support for local producers of the white stuff.
The action comes during what is an exceptionally tough time for the dairy industry and after months of savage farm gate price cuts. Some farmers are now being paid more than 30 per cent less for the milk they produce.
At least 60 of the region’s dairy farmers have sold their cows and closed parlours recently, the NFU said, and nationally, there are now fewer than 10,000 dairy farmers for the first time.
“We are bemused by the prices being paid at the moment,” said David Shaw, the NFU’s regional dairy board chairman. “Especially as we are talking about a fantastic, fresh, nutritious product.”
Alongside farmers will be Annabelle, the NFU’s ‘milking’ model cow, and samples of local yogurt and cheese from Longley Farm, Shepherds Purse, Wensleydale Creamery and Our Cow Molly will be served to shoppers.
“We will have plenty of samples for people to try and hope that by reminding them how good our local produce is, they’ll remember to back British farming next time they go shopping,” Mr Shaw said.
“In particular we are asking people to look out for cheese, yogurts, butter and other dairy products made using British milk, as we know many of the products currently on sale use imported milk.”
The farmers will be in Middlesbrough town centre a day earlier.