Protests have been relentless since Thursday, as dairy farmers take their grievances to the dairy processing companies that have claimed they will cut milk prices by 2 pence per litre (ppl) from August 1.
This means dairy farmers will be paid 25 ppl, when the cost of production is 30 ppl; an amount that is unsustainable, and threatens to cave the dairy industry.
Jamie Oliver may be best known for his work with school dinners and battery farmed chickens, but he has come out against this decision, in support of British farmers:
“Milk is a brilliant food but we have lost all sight of its value. We pay more for bottled water than we do for milk – yet water bubbles out of the ground, while milk comes from livestock which need our care,” he said, in a letter to The Times.
The vast support behind dairy farmers has led Morrisons supermarket to announce a 2 pence premium for every litre of milk they purchase. At least 10% of dairy farmers could be kicked out of their business, if this 2ppl cut goes ahead next month.
Since 1996 the number of dairy farmers in this country has depleted by more than 50%, and next year, it is predicted that milk production will reach all-time lows.
At the beginning of the month, 2,000 farmers grabbed their pitchforks and took to Westminster. Last Thursday saw 500 farmers and 80 tractors blockade Somerset’s milk processing plant.
More than 1,000 farmers stormed Muller Dairy in Market Drayton, Shropshire, on Sunday. The continued rallying of farmers to the cause promised a tide of protests, on-going through the Olympics. The action is trending on Twitter at #sosdairy.
Even children are joining the action against cuts. A little boy was seen holding a sign saying: “Grandpa loses £130 a day milking his cows” at one of the recent blockades.
Why Are Milk Processors Cutting Prices?
Milk processors say that cream has fallen in profitability on the global market from £1,800 per tonne to £1,020 in one year.
Cream prices are important because they off-set the low prices attained with milk. Cream goes into making cheeses, yoghurt, and butter.
Partly to blame for these changes are the supermarkets and their influence on dairy prices. As the last link in the chain between farmer and consumer, their price-slashing culture has put pressure on milk processing companies to keep prices low, even with retailers like the Co-op earning a cool 14 pence profit per litre.
After rows over dairy prices, the Co-op has committed to increasing the amount it pays for milk to 29 ppl.
Times are tough for dairy farmers already, with skyrocketing prices of feed – almost 17% higher than the previous year. Also the bad weather has made milking hours challenging, with farmers needing to shed their cows earlier than expected.
The government, although they can’t force either the dairy farmers or the milk processing companies to come to a settlement, have sat in on meetings to help them along.
With already uncomfortable coverage of Britain, after the security hiccup before the Olympic Games, the last thing the government wants is continued bad press from the agricultural sector.
This post was written on behalf of http://www.ungererlimited.com/
Photo: Ilya Schurov