Farmers for Action boss David Handley is promising to get tough to secure cost-of-production rises on milk.

Tesco had failed to act in time, he claimed, triggering militant action. "Wednesday was the deadline day we gave Tesco. We'll have to go out and show we mean business," he said.

He praised Arla and Dairy Crest for pushing hard for an increase, but didn't believe other companies, including the co-ops, were working hard enough for them.

The co-ops deny the accusation they are not actively engaged in trying to move prices forward.

"We are constantly talking with our customers about milk prices," said Will Sanderson, on behalf of Milk Link. First Milk said it acknowledged that major retailers were demonstrating an understanding of the difficult conditions faced by dairy farmers. It denied any accusation of inactivity in trying to move prices up, and said the key was to work with everyone in the chain to ensure a sustainable industry.