Farmers For Action leader David Handley said that after weeks of tense negotiations, the UK’s retail multiples had finally agreed to increase the amount they pay suppliers for cheese.
The news came as Farmers For Action - which is famed for its direct action approach - began to mobilise members for a fresh wave of protests outside supermarket depots.
Last week, farmers picketed at sites owned by Tesco and Marks and Spencer in what Handley called “a gentle reminder that the cheese price initiative was progressing too slowly”.
But Handley said action was
nipped in the bud when he received a call from a senior Tesco executive, saying that the multiple would increase the amount it paid its suppliers for cheese by £150/tonne, or 15p/kg. Other retailers, including
Asda, Sainsbury, Morrisons and Lidl, were also on board,but all had been awaiting the green light from Tesco before the initiative could progress,he said.
It was not clear how much retailers were planning to increase prices in-store. The agreement is designed to ensure that farmers who supply cheese makers receive an extra 1.5ppl of raw milk to compensate them for increases in supply chain costs.
Handley said dairy farmers should offer “a big thank you to Tesco”. He added that Tesco’s Irish cheese suppliers would also benefit from the deal. There had been fears among the multiple’s rivals that Irish farmers would not benefit, and that Tesco would simply pocket the extra from the 50% of its cheese that comes from the Republic.
But Handley warned that the FFA would monitor the situation to ensure that increased prices paid to processors meant greater returns for dairy farmers.
Richard Clarke & Chris Walkland