Hard-pressed dairy farmers hit by farm gate price cuts

A DAIRY farmer who last week announced he was pulling out of the industry altogether following heavy losses has slammed the latest farm gate price cuts for milk.

John Collen, of Gisleham, near Kessingland, exclusively revealed to the East Anglian Daily Times last week that he was selling his herd as rising costs and falling prices made the three generation family dairy business increasingly unviable.

In the past two weeks, Dairy Crest, Robert Wiseman, Arla and Muller have announced cuts to their suppliers of exactly two pence per litre

Mr Collen, who supplies Arla, a dairy company and co-operative owned by Danish, Swedish and German dairy farmers, said: “It’s an appalling situation to be in. The cost of feed goes up, electricity goes up, all the inputs go up and yet again we see a decrease in the price of milk.

“It only shows our decision was the right one.”

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He added: “It doesn’t make us feel any better, but it does vindicate that decision. We have made our decision, so that’s done and dusted. It would be nice to see the prices going up so those that reminain remain viable. We certainly don’t take any joy out of seeing prices come down.”

Dairy farmer Jonathan Crickmore, of Bungay, who supplies Dairy Crest, said the decision meant his turnover had been slashed by more than �40,000 with just four days’ notice of the cut.

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He has spoken in favour of UK dairy farms uniting to form their own national co-operative.

“You can see why dairy farmers get fed up,” he said.

Robert Wiseman Dairies, which announced this week that it was cutting its milk prices for the first time in three years, said it faced a challenging market environment and more recently a collapse in the value of bulk cream.

Higher returns from cream prior to the turn of the year partially compensated for other pressures facing the business, it said, but the collapse in bulk cream value since the beginning of 2012 had resulted in an untenable position.

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) dairy board chairman Mansel Raymond said the NFU was “extremely dismayed” at news of processor price cuts and attacked the moves as “atrocious”.

“This is another devastating blow to the farming businesses affected,” he said.

“The bulk cream market has been cited as the reason for the cut. Yet it’s clear that the price that liquid milk is sold for is the main contributing factor and that is unsustainable.”

He added: “This raft of milk price cuts exposes the fundamental problems in milk contracts.”

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