A group of four disenchanted agricultural businessmen has invested tens of thousands of pounds in a national press advertising drive highlighting the plight of dairy farmers.

They have set up a company, Food Security, to manage the campaign and have hired a call centre to handle enquiries from the public.

The ad appeared this week in The Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Independent and London's Metro. It read: "Two thousand dairy farmers left the industry in one year recently, and another 31% plan to leave within the next two years because, paid the lowest price in Europe, they cannot make a living. Surely you would rather drink top-quality fresh British milk than inferior imported milk!

"Can we trust fragile trading relationships, which this country relies on for food security? What if those who send us food turn against us, need that food for themselves, or international crisis disrupts supply?

"We must act now to prevent a rapid decline of dairy farming. For further information call our Food Security Infoline." One of the men behind Food Security, Philip Brock, an arable farmer and agricultural machinery dealer, said the aim was to engage with the public, rather than the industry. "The UK's agricultural capacity is in decline and the public should know. We wanted to spend money talking to normal Mr Bloggs rather than farmers."

Brock admitted that Food Security did not have any specific future plans, but insisted it did not advocate militancy. "We're not the types to stand in supermarket car parks protesting. We just want another 2-3p a litre to save the industry."

People contacting the hotline will be encouraged to write to their MP and demand action.