10:40am Friday 13th July 2012
By Freya Leng
A DAIRY farmer has called for a reversal of “catastrophic” price cuts which risk forcing producers out of the industry, he says.
Third-generation farmer Rob Harrison, who farms 200 cattle between Chipping Campden and Blockley, was set to join hundreds of other farmers at a crisis summit in London yesterday.
The talks called for the immediate reversal of milk price cuts imposed on farmers by three leading processors; Arla Foods UK, Robert Wiseman Dairies and Dairy Crest.
The reductions of up to 2p per litre from August follow cuts for many dairy farmers imposed in the spring, with Mr Harrison and the National Farmers Union warning that production costs outstrip the wholesale price the dairies will pay.
It currently costs an average of 30p a litre to produce milk but farmers are being paid about 25p.
Mr Harrison, who has three young children, said: “I, like many other farmers, will not survive the winter at these levels.
Farmers are the ones who milk and look after the cows, grow the grass and get up early every day.
“I am passionate about dairy farming but I cannot afford to lose money continually. A lot will only be able to ride it out in the short term. Many dairy farmers are upset and really struggling. They want to feel there’s a future.”
At a meeting last week the NFU, Tenant Farmers Association and Farmers for Action called on farmers to show their strength of feeling by turning out in force to yesterday’s summit.
A joint statement said: “The catastrophic cuts will drive farmers out of the dairy industry and we are united in our demand for an immediate reversal of recent and planned cuts. There has been an unprecedented outcry of anger and frustration among farmers.”
Farming Minister Jim Paice said: “These further price cuts are disappointing as they appear to fly in the face of rising prices in global markets, and they show how important it is for the industry as a whole to agree on a voluntary code of practice on contracts as soon as possible.”
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