Handley claimed last week’s FFA-organised three-day strike had been an unqualified success, with hundreds of farmers dumping milk instead of sending it for processing.
He said dairies had been forced to divert thousands of litres of milk earmarked for cheesemaking to alternative plants for processing into liquid milk to ensure that they met customers’ requirements.
And he claimed supermarkets in the Midlands had been left severely short of milk, and that in one part of Hampshire, 20 out of 27 delivery rounds had been cancelled. But Handley’s bullish appraisal is at odds with that of the processors and retailers.
Processors approached by The Grocer said they had serviced contracts fully, and some said very few farmers had taken part in the action.
Retailers, meanwhile, insisted they had not faced empty fridges as a result of militant activity by some farmers.
Publicly, FFA made much of farmers’ plan to dump milk. However, there were reports of heavier loads of milk than usual being delivered to dairies on Saturday, the day after the strike ended, suggesting it had simply been withheld from the market.
But though the practical effect of the strike might be open to question, numerous TV and radio networks and newspapers reported the discontent among dairy farmers.