DAIRY farmers in Powys could be forced to quit the industry following the latest round of milk price cuts by the three major dairy processors.
In the past seven days Robert Wiseman Dairies, owned by Müller Dairies in Market Drayton, Arla Foods UK, the UK subsidiary of Arla Foods Amba and Dairy Crest, have all announced cuts to their milk prices paid to farmers.
As of August 1, Robert Wiseman Dairies will cut its farm-gate milk by a 1.7 pence per litre, Arla Foods UK by an eye-watering two pence per litre and Dairy Crest by 1.65 pence per litre.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) says the cost of producing a litre of milk on a farm is now well over 30 pence, yet Robert Wiseman Dairies will be paying their farmer suppliers just 24.73 pence per litre, Arla Foods UK 25 pence per litre and Dairy Crest 24.92 pence per litre.
NFU Cymru has described the decisions as a ‘catastrophe and sheer exploitation of its dairy farmer suppliers’.
“These price slashes come at the expense of the average dairy farmer who is now making a significant loss for every litre they produce,” said NFU Cymru deputy president Stephen James.
“This news is clear exploitation of the weak position farmers find themselves in and backs up yet again our claim that something is fundamentally wrong with the dairy supply chain.
“This must simply stop, milk is a fresh and precious product yet it is being sold as a cheap commodity. It’s being sold at a loss which is simply unforgivable.
“We need action and we need it now. Firstly, processors need to take responsibility and own up to the fact that they have been selling milk so cheaply in the first place and become too reliant on the price of secondary products for income. Second, the UK government needs to sort out the mess that is dairy contracts.
“This erosion of prices is crippling our dairy industry at a time when it should be thriving. It must stop; the very survival of our industry is at stake.”
Meanwhile, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has described the dairies’ decision to once again slash its farm-gate milk price as an ‘utter disgrace and a devastating blow to the industry’.
“This decision will have a devastating effect on dairy producers and family run dairy farms in particular will be feeling the hit,” said FUW milk and dairy produce committee chairman Dei Davies.
There are 141 dairy farmers in Powys, according to figures by Dairy Co.
A fourth dairy processor, First Milk, is expected to make an announcement on its prices for August within the next couple of days.
Farming leaders lay down demands to sort out dairy prices
An unprecedented meeting of farming unions has called for the immediate reversal of milk price cuts imposed on farmers since April 1.
The NFU chaired this morning’s meeting of leaders from NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) and Farmers for Action who came together in an industry show of strength after a catastrophic three months for the sector.
The representatives called for all milk price cuts imposed on farmers since April 1 to be restored by August 1.
The unions have also called on farmers to show their strength of feeling by turning out in force at a crisis summit in London on Wednesday leaving retailers, MPs, processors and the public in no doubt about the scale of the problem.
The summit will tackle the need for retailers working with processors to take responsibility for a sustainable supply chain which returns at least a cost of production for dairy farmers.
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. We want to harness that strength of feeling and bring together farmers from across England, Scotland and Wales to express their feelings in London next week.
“Farmers have told us they will do whatever it takes to stand up against these cuts – Wednesday’s summit gives us that chance.
“There is a window of opportunity between now and August 1 to progress a robust voluntary code of practice, however, we will also be exploring a regulatory solution from government.”