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Dairy farmers blockade Morrisons’ depots

Taken from Farmers Weekly by Johann Tasker

Monday 22 April 2013 09:34

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Farmers targeted the Morrisons distribution centres at Wakefield, West Yorkshire; and Gadbrook Park, Northwich, Cheshire.

Articulated lorries were forced to queue in the road as tractors blocked the entrance, preventing vehicles from entering and leaving the depots.

The protests follow similar demonstrations over the past week by members of Farmers For Action at supermarket distribution centres in the Midlands.

Protests centred on the Co-operative supermarket, with protestors targeting the retailer’s distribution centre at Alfreton, Derbyshire.

Farmers continue to warn that farmgate milk prices must rise to meet increases in input costs. Many are losing 4p/litre or more on every litre produced.

The dairy co-operative First Milk has conceded that price cuts are a possibility. It has blamed downward price pressure on retailers, accusing them of refusing to pay more for cheese.

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After the Alfreton protest, it emerged that the Co-operative had already increased the amount it paid First Milk for cheese production.

Protestors have now turned their attention to Morrisons, with is also a First Milk customer.

First Milk has said discussions with its retail customers are continuing in a bid to stave off the prospect of price cuts for producers supplying milk under its cheese contract.

These farmers are bracing themselves for a cut of up to 2p/litre from June unless the talks are successful in increasing higher cheese prices.

If they fail, the fear is that other milk buyers will also cut farmgate milk prices.

The protests raise the prospect of another summer of discontent following last year’s SOS Dairy protests, which saw thousands of farmers take to the streets.

Farmers For Action chairman David Handley has accused dairy processors of “cherry-picking” from a voluntary code of practice designed to ensure fair farmgate milk prices.

Mr Handley is due to address a crisis meeting due to be held at Holsworthy Memorial Hall, Devon, this Wednesday (24 April).

Hundreds of farmers are expected to attend the meeting – many of them travelling to the venue in a convoy of tractors and farm vehicles.


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