UK: Farm milk price ‘must rise more’ says NFU

FARMERS’ leaders said farm gate milk prices must rise more as they welcomed processor Dairy Crest’s announcement this week that it would pay more.

National Farmers’ Union chief dairy adviser Rob Newbery said: “At this point in time, farmer suppliers to Dairy Crest will be incredibly anxious to see price rises as soon as possible. Dairy Crest’s news will bring some relief to farmers, but it is clear that more must follow given the dramatic increases in costs of production for this winter.”

Dairy Crest, one of the dairy firms targeted by farmers in blockades this summer is increasing the amount it pays for milk by 3p to 29p a litre on contracts for liquid milk and Davidstow cheese from November 1.

The increase of around 3p a litre is on top of Dairy Crest’s decision to reverse a planned price cut in August and means that its prices are now higher than they were before prices started to come down from May.

The company’s plants in Derbyshire and Gloucestershire were the subject of blockades in July as farmers across the UK protested over the declining amount of money being paid for their milk.

Dairy Crest, which supplies around 15% of British milk production, said higher selling prices from its customers and expectations of improving returns from commodity markets had enabled it to raise supplier prices.

The maker of Cathedral City cheese and Country Life butter added: “They are much needed to reflect the higher on-farm costs that all dairy farmers are currently experiencing following the difficult weather conditions this summer.”

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Two weeks ago, supermarket giant Tesco said the 700 dairy farmers who supply the chain’s own-label non-organic milk will be paid up to 31.58p per litre from October 1 - a rise of just over 2p.

Dairy Crest said its own price was competitive as it does not expect its farmers to pay for investment in its dairies or face other charges.

Milk buying director Mike Sheldon said: “As the only major processor in British ownership, Dairy Crest’s future is strongly linked to that of our farmers. We want and need our farmers to be successful.”