Milk price hike ‘welcome news’

THE region’s farmers’ leaders have welcomed an announcement by leading supermarket milk supplier Dairy Crest that it will increase the amount it pays dairies.

The company says it will pay farmers an additional 1.85p a litre from next month, an increase of nearly 7%.

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) East spokesman Brian Finnerty said: “This is welcome news, not just for the farmers of East Anglia who supply Dairy Crest, but for the signal it sends to the rest of the country.

“The NFU has been campaigning strongly for better milk prices, with good support from Suffolk MPs, including Dan Poulter.”

Mr Poulter highlighted the issue with a Westminster hall debate in June.

“Our dairy farmers have been bumping along at the bottom of the European milk price league table for too long, getting under 27p per litre for milk when the cost of production is estimated to be 31p. They want to invest in their businesses to secure their future, but they can’t do do if they are selling milk at a loss.

“These milk prices have been a long time coming but they are good news for farmers and we will be looking for more to come.”

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Two months ago, Robert Wiseman, which supplies a third of the UK’s milk, warned it would increase the farm gate price of its produce this winter.

Dairy Crest also makes Cathedral City cheese, Country Life butter, Frijj milk drinks and Clover spreads, but did not indicate a change in prices for these products.

The company, which is supplied by 1,330 dairy farmers said the higher milk prices included new bonuses for farmers designed to drive up quality and animal welfare standards.

A trading update for the period since March revealed it had made cost savings and increased selling prices to offset higher input costs.