Dairy farmers may join forces for more muscle

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English dairy farmers will be able to form producer organisations to have more clout when selling their milk, under plans set out by the Government.

The proposals follow a difficult year for dairy farmers who in the summer fought against moves by the major processors to further cut the price they paid for milk.

The threat of price cuts, along with rising feed costs, raised fears that many dairy farmers would be forced out of business.

Under the plans published for consultation, English farmers would be able to come together and form producer organisations, rather than negotiating with major processors as individuals.

The producer organisations, which are widespread in Europe, could cover up to a third of UK production and negotiate on behalf of their members, the Environment Department said. An industry agreement on a voluntary code of practice on contracts between farmers and processors has already been agreed.