The Müller/Wiseman group has announced it is increasing its standard milk price to farmers to 30.5 pence per litre over the next three months.
The company will initially put up its farmgate milk price by 0.5ppl, to 29.5ppl, on 1 December, with a further 1ppl to follow on 1 February.
The new price will apply to dairy farmers that supply Müller/Wiseman but are not on specific retailer contracts, as those are subject to their own, separate pricing arrangements.
CEO Ronald Kers said the company wanted to offer higher milk prices to farmers to ensure security of supply at a time when milk production was falling. “We are determined to be the leading dairy company in the UK and Ireland and the preferred home for milk produced by Britain’s dairy farmers, and we will work closely with the [Müller Wiseman Milk Partnership] farmer board to this end,” he said.
Müller/Wiseman was recently targeted by farmer protest group Farmers for Action over low milk prices. Kers hit out at the FFA’s “wildcat militant action” at the time and reiterated his criticism this week. “We cannot be distracted by localised and unlawful militancy promoted by people many of whom have no connection with the group whatsoever,” he said.
Müller Wiseman Milk Partnership Board chairman Roddy Catto said he was pleased with the progress farmers were making in negotiating prices with the company and urged against further protests. “We would ask those behind recent militant activity to respect the fact that we are the elected representatives of all dairy farmers who supply the group,” he said. “Blockades of the kind recently seen in Shropshire risked undermining the progress of these discussions, and it is time now to build a relationship that is based not on disruption and ultimatums but on constructive dialogue.”
NFU dairy board chairman Mansel Raymond welcomed the price announcement but said the staggered nature of the increase meant only some pressures on farmers would be alleviated. “This is the right direction of travel, but we would have liked to see the price rising further and faster,” he said. “All indications suggest production is down this winter and will be depressed for much of next year. I’m not convinced this is enough to reverse this trend and stimulate production.”