Farmers prepare for protest at dairy crisis

Hundreds of farmers from Yorkshire are set to travel to London tomorrow to protest at the crisis in the dairy industry.

More than a thousand farmers from across the country are expected to converge on the capital for the Emergency Dairy Summit and Demonstration at Westminster’s Central Hall.

The protest follows dramatic cuts in the price farmers are paid for milk in recent days, which industry leaders estimate could wipe well over £50,000 off the income of the average producer.

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The cuts of up to 2 pence per litre (ppl) were introduced initially by three leading processors – Robert Wiseman Dairies, Arla Foods UK and Dairy Crest – but others including Yorkshire local processor Paynes Dairies are now following suit. Farmers say the move now sees them operating at well below the cost of production.

The National Farmers Union is organising coaches to take people down to the mass demonstration, at which Ministers, retailers and processors are hoped to appear.

Chairman of the North East dairy board, David Shaw, said: “We have lost nearly half our dairy producers in Yorkshire and the North East over the last decade – 77 in the last two years alone. The current situation is so bad that I really now fear for the last 900 left standing.

“We have been inundated with calls from desperate members who have no idea how they are going to cope with these losses.

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“The only way forward is for liquid milk processors, retailers and other major buyers to take responsibility for this situation and sort it out without delay.

“This is our opportunity to really show our determination to fight these cuts, so I hope we will see a big turnout from farmers across the region.”

The Farmers for Action group are already threatening to blockade depots and processing centres in response to the latest cuts.