TALKS between Yorkshire-based supermarket Morrisons and farming industry leaders will be held next week to discuss milk prices following a series of protests by farmers.
Around 1,000 farmers gathered at Morrisons depot in Bridgwater, Somerset, on Thursday night while 600 blockaded another in Middlewich, Cheshire.
It followed dozens of protests, dubbed the ‘Milk Trolley Challenge’, at supermarket stores such as Morrisons and Lidl across Britain, including in Cornwall, Lancashire, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The protests have involved farmers removing cartons of milk from shop shelves before paying for it and taking it away or dumping it at the checkout.
Arla, Morrisons’ largest supplier of milk and Britian’s biggest milk co-operative, has announced a price cut of 0.8p per litre - taking its standard litre price to 23.01p for UK members.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Farmers For Action thanked protesters for their “fantastic” support and urged them to target retailers other than Morrisons.
Yesterday, a spokesman for Morrisons confirmed the company would hold talks with industry leaders about the issue next week.
Earlier this week, Morrisons told The Yorkshire Post it was disappointed with the disruption at its stores. A customer had been injured during a protest, it said, and letters have been handed to protesters warning Morrisons will take action if activities endanger staff or shoppers.
As the crisis continues, fuelled by a global over-supply of milk, the UK’s four main farming unions - the NFU Cymru, the NFU, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers Union - have called for UK farming ministers to meet with them to discuss ways forward.
In a joint statement, they said: “UK farmers do have the potential to play an enormous part in the economic recovery of the UK and, at the same time, to provide much more of the food the country needs.
“Therefore we call on the UK farming ministers to meet jointly with us as soon as possible to identify what they can do to alleviate the very serious problems facing our industry.”
Historic price cuts have taken their toll on dairy farmers, with around 685 left in Yorkshire today compared to 1,999 in 2000.