Suffolk: Dairy farmers’ disgust at latest round of milk price cuts
FARMERS raised fears that the UK dairy industry could soon become extinct as processors piled on the misery for them this month with a fresh round of milk price cuts.
Farmer John Collen, of Gisleham, near Lowestoft, has already decided enough is enough and exited the industry for good this week with the sale of his 200-strong herd. He described the painful wrench as “like losing a member of the family”.
In the past fortnight, Robert Wiseman Dairies, owned by M�ller Dairies, Arla Foods UK, the UK subsidiary of Arla Foods Amba, as well as Dairy Crest, announced cuts to their milk prices paid to farmers as of August 1 of 1.7ppl, 2.0ppl and 1.65ppl respectively, following further significant cuts in recent months.
Processors blamed tough market conditions for the cuts. Dairy Crest, which recently decided to close its dairies in Cambridgeshire and Liverpool as it seeks efficiencies, promised no further cuts this year. It said it would be looking to increase the price again as soon as market conditions allowed.
Mr Collen, who was heading to market with his cows on Tuesday, expressed his disgust at the cuts as he drew a line under his loss-making business.
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“It makes us feel sick that they (the processors) can be so arrogant in the market to believe they will continue to source milk,” he said.
The processing industry’s attitude at his own decision to shut the family-run dairy had been “absolute indifference”, he claimed.
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The latest rises, following close on the heels of cuts earlier this year, only underlined the need for him to exit, he said.
“Of course we are vindicated but that’s the last of our emotions. There was great sadness this morning when the cows left.
“The farm will not be the same again. That’s done and dusted now as far as we are concerned. There’s no real bitterness - just shock at the arrogance that these companies have got.
“Without the producer, these middle producers and supermarkets will not have anything to sell and they are driving the industry towards collapse.
“For the dairy industry it’s now absolutely critical that these prices are reversed, otherwise the industry will be into freefall.”
Last year, his dairy made a 5p a litre loss on its milk, he said.
National Farmers Union president Peter Kendall warned the latest cuts would be “the final straw” for many.
“We must take action before the dairy industry is on its knees,” he said.
“Dairy farmers are already quitting in record numbers and this new round of cuts, many due to come into force on August 1, is likely to be the final straw for many.”