Asda move sours row over milk prices

The milk prices dispute between farmers and Asda continued yesterday after an injunction that stops protesters obstructing lorries outside the store giant's depots was renewed.

Farmers For Action (FFA) claims it is being hampered from protesting outside Asda's distribution depots and stores over issues concerning milk prices and the supply chain.

But Asda says its retail milk prices have not changed since July; it has increased the price paid to farmers to 26.25p a litre; and unlawful protests will stop consumers shopping.

A temporary injunction which restricts FFA protesters from trespassing or obstructing access to Asda premises was renewed by Judge Langan QC in Leeds yesterday.

But FFA chairman David Handley said: "We've not had an arrest or a threat of an arrest in any supermarket protests. As soon as the police arrive we always do what we're told.

"Our whole campaign is about the supply chain not working – the money is going more to the retailer and less to the producer. It's not specifically Asda that there is a problem with."

Mr Handley was snowed in at his South Wales farm and could not attend court yesterday so the injunction was continued until a hearing on January 7, when he will give evidence.

Judge Langan said: "Since the injunction was granted there has been very little activity in the way of protests outside Asda premises with the exception (of) some significant obstruction at one depot.

"But apart from that, nobody has done anything that could be regarded as out of order.

"It should be said that protests can be carried out legitimately."

National Farmers' Union president Peter Kendall said: "I can't stress enough that many farmers, dairy producers in particular, are feeling very frustrated and angry that they are still not getting a fair price – one that covers the costs of production in most cases. This cannot go on."

Asda distribution director Ian Stansfield said the company was "firmly committed" to paying dairy farmers a fair price.