The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) has waded into the milk price war by calling for reassurance from supermarkets that they will support British dairy farmers.

The move comes after Asda cut the price of four pints from £1.53 to £1.25 two weeks ago, swiftly followed by aggressive price promotions from the other multiples. Morrisons, for example, ran a promotion offering four pints for 50p.

“We are deeply concerned the major retailers have decided to launch a price war when Britain’s dairy farmers are already battling to stay in business,” said NFWI chairwoman, Ruth Bond. Consumers wanted to see the UK dairy industry thrive long-term and produce high-quality products, she added, and no assurances had been given by the retailers that producers would not “ultimately bear the brunt” of the price cuts.

The organisation is now gearing up for a rerun of its 2006 Great Milk Debates campaign with the NFU.

In 2006, the two campaigned for higher milk prices for farmers after the farmgate average hit 18.4ppl, down from 24.5ppl a decade earlier.

Following the campaign, prices paid by retailers -began to rise, reaching 25.91ppl in 2008 [Defra].

Farmgate prices then dropped again in 2009 to 23.71ppl, which – combined with rising production costs – meant farmers were now in a worse position than before the debates, the NFWI said.

Details of the new campaign have yet to be finalised, but an ‘action pack’ will be distributed to members in November. There will also be a half-day -conference on the issue.