Farmers’ leaders admit that forcing a rise in farmgate milk prices is proving difficult, despite widespread direct action.
Farmers For Action boss David Handley said the issue of where the additional money paid through the spring milk price initiative had gone was preventing progress.
He claimed: “The retailers are all hiding behind the argument over where the money has gone. They want to be satisfied that the money paid to farmers has gone to farmers, but it hasn’t.”
His comments came as Robert Wiseman Dairies cut its milk price by 0.35ppl to 19.76ppl, blaming cuts by rivals for the reduction. But it pledged to hold that price until January to create stability for its suppliers.
Meanwhile, a row has been sparked by Milk Development Council figures suggesting that a relatively small part of the extra 3.5ppl paid by retailers under the initiative went to farmers.
Arla Foods UK director of milk buying Peter Walker has written to Defra and the MDC disputing the figures, which were produced for the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland.
According to the MDC, “significant increases in retail prices did not find their way back to farmers”.
The MDC claimed farmers’ share of the 3.5ppl rise was 11.4% from Arla, 8.6% from Dairy Crest and 25% from Robert Wiseman Dairies.
But the MDC is standing by its figures. “They are correct,” insisted chief executive Kevin Bellamy. “And we have written back this week telling them that.”
Arla was unavailable for comment.
Chris Walkland