East Anglia: Angry dairy farmers in show of strength at Westminister summit

Angry dairy farmers made their feelings known today as they descended on Westminster for a dairy summit.

The farmers, who have been hit by a series of price cuts on farm gate prices, demanded a reversal of the latest round of cuts, due to take effect in August.

Among them were scores of East Anglian dairy farmers, 50 of whom headed down by coach from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) headquarters in Newmarket this morning.

The summit, attended by around 2,500 farmers, had to be delayed for about 15 minutes to get all of the farmers into the packed hall, where they were addressed by Farming Minister Jim Paice.

NFU East spokesman Brian Finnerty said the farmers had been buoyed by the many messages of support they had received, but were still angry at the increasingly unviable margins they now faced.

Many had been brought to the brink and would be forced out of business, he warned, and there was anger in the hall. But the summit had been a show of strength, and farmers were hoping that it would lead to a new pricing structure and better rules.

“The key message is there’s 21 days to reverse these cuts,” he said. “We have all got to work together so we can all make some money out of the milk supply chain.”

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Some farmers were on better contracts than others, he said, and they wanted that replicated across the industry. Consumers were willing to pay more, he added.

“There was a lot of anger in the room, a lot of frustration in the room about the current situation the farmers are in. They are rightly proud of what they produce.”