Stone farmers join in with the peaceful protest


Farmers throughout the county joined in a peaceful protest to raise shoppers’ awareness of their plight as dairy farmers – a situation where the cots of production of milk outstrips the farmers’ “gate price” to the point where if nothing is done, many farmers will be forced to pull out of dairy for a potentially more lucrative source of revenue. Some way well pull out of farming for good.

They have been using shock tactics – emptying the supermarket shelves and reselling outside the stores – replacing milk with water (often more expensive than milk these days!)
And on Sunday August 9th, they visited a number of supemarkets with two cows …

“My cows couldn’t believe how cheap the price of milk was in the shops so I had to take them to see before they would believe me!”

And that’s just what they did. They diddn’t visit Stone or Eccleshall – but they did turn up unannounced at Asda in Stafford as per the photograph here. Needless to say, they made their point dramatically and eloquently at the same time – not easy, but they did it.

Here’s what has led up to the current impasse.

• Milk has been devalued by a number of retailers and is a key item being used in an aggressive supermarket price war.
• The 4 pint carton is offered by Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland for £0.89 – cheaper than water and a slap in the face to farmers.
• Half of UK production goes to liquid milk sales. This demand cannot be met by imports so can only be supplied by British dairy farmers. Dairy products make massive margins for the retailer (cheddar 47% margin) and are an essential draw that brings consumers into store.
• 421 dairy farms in England and Wales closed down from Aug14 to Aug 15 (Staffordshire↓23)
• Total UK production considerably lower than it was 10 years ago
• DEFRA UK farm gate price for June 2015 £0.2366 per litre, ↓25% compared to 2014. UK average retail price for liquid milk £0.58 per litre. Farmer gets 41% of retail price.

The dairy farmers are not alone. Sheep farmers have also seen a 25% dropm in their farm gate prices in just 12 months – this time a glut ids the main culprit – New Zealand imports remain fairly static, and really only affect the market in winer into spring. It would appear that we are eating less lamb, which remains the most expensive of the more popular meats on sale.

I’m sure all readers wouldn’t mind paying more for their food if they could be sure the growers and producers benefitted for added price. I personally TV advertising by the Milk Marketing Board in the 60’s & 70’swhere viewers were being appraised of the value of milk in comparison with beer – pint for pint. These days the easier comparison is water – that is just how much the price of milk has fallen behind as doorstep deliveries have given way to fridges and bulk buying.