Farmers in fresh protests over supermarket milk prices

Media caption,
Dairy farmers stage a protest over fears that they could go out of business because of poor prices they are paid for supplying supermarkets

Dairy farmers are continuing to protest at supermarkets in parts of the UK over the price they are paid for their milk.

Farmers have been clearing supermarket shelves by buying milk in bulk and giving it away over the past few days.

They say they are being paid less than it costs to produce the milk, and some have gone out of business because shops have reduced prices.

The supermarkets say there is no link between the price of milk on the shelves and what farmers are paid.

'Extremely difficult'

West Midlands dairy farmer Michael Oakes, from the National Farmers' Union (NFU), said: "We've got to the point where we're getting an unsustainable price for our milk.

"I'm getting paid 24p (per litre) and it's costing me 28p to produce. So we thought we'd go along to the retailer, we've bought the milk and we're going to give it away to the consumer and explain why."

Image caption,
Farmers have taken their protest to the main supermarkets

Graeme Kilpatrick, chairman of the NFU Scotland's milk committee, said: "I receive many calls from affected dairy farmers and it can be tough going mentally.

"My family has been in farming for several generations and the current crisis has had a major impact on our cashflow."

Protests have taken place at supermarkets, including:

Dairy farmer Bryce Cunningham, who helped to organise protests in Scotland, said the current situation was "extremely difficult".

"At the moment we're being being paid 15p a litre for every litre of milk that we produce. It's costing me 24p to produce this milk," he said.

'Reduced demand'

A Sainsbury's spokesman said: "Our retail price is not related to the price we pay our farmers. Our milk prices are competitive for our customers, while also paying our dedicated dairy farmers a fair price that protects them against volatile markets."

Darren Blackhurst, commercial director at Morrisons Group, said: "We try to pass on lower prices to our customers wherever possible.

"We do recognise however, due to reduced global demand, that this has created an oversupply of British milk, creating difficult conditions for many dairy farmers at present."

Asda said the price that farmers get is set independently and there is no link between retail prices and farm gate prices.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said shops were not to blame.

"The global market at the moment is over supplied, we haven't seen the pick up in demand that we might have expected from places like China and India which were growing quite rapidly," he said.

"So until that picks up there will be problems. But it's absolutely wrong to look at retailers here. Retailers are actually doing the right thing - they are paying the best prices - but these are global conditions outside their control."

British dairy organisation AHDB Dairy said the the average UK farm gate price was 24.06p per litre in May, a decrease of a quarter over 12 months.

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