Thousands of furious dairy farmers descended upon Westminster to warn Ministers they have been “pushed to the brink” over recent cuts to milk prices.
Hundreds of dairy farmers from across Yorkshire joined with some 2,500 more from around the UK yesterday to attend a “dairy summit” in Westminster organised by the National Farmers Union.
The farmers are angry at the latest round of cuts of up to 2p per litre announced by major milk processors, which come on top of similar cuts in the spring.
Speaking to the huge crowd in Westminster Central Hall, National Farmers’ Union deputy president Meurig Raymond issued a stark warning that dairy farmers “have been pushed to the brink” by the latest cuts.
He said: “These latest cuts are the feed bills, the wages, the housekeeping, and will take us well into loss-making territory – with many farmers losing up to 6p per litre.
“Society has to recognise what these dairy farmers have been put through by a marketplace that doesn’t work and is not fair.”
He called for price cuts to be reversed by August 1, threatening mass action otherwise.
Farming Minister Jim Paice told the hostile audience that “real progress” was being made on a voluntary code being drawn up by the industry that should help ensure fairer prices.
David Cameron told MPs he sympathised with the farmers and pledged an extra £5m to help the dairy industry to innovate.
But Ian Mudd, who has 135 cows in North Yorkshire, said he will lose £50,000 a year because of the cuts which were “crucifying” farmers.
“We are an endangered species,” he said. “What is so sad is there is no hope for the next generation of dairy farmers.”