Shoppers give milk price support at Morrisons, Cardiff

Dairy farmers were among campaigners at a supermarket in Cardiff urging shoppers to sign a letter to support them over milk prices.

The group, including members of the National Farming Union, also handed out leaflets at Morrisons in Cardiff Bay.

It came as the supermarket, along with the Co-operative, announced increased premiums on milk for farmers.

Earlier, it was confirmed UK ministers are to meet dairy farmers at the Royal Welsh Show on Monday.

Farmers around the UK are protesting against planned milk price cuts of up to 2p a litre.

Four leading dairy processors recently announced the cuts, due from 1 August

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and farming minister Jim Paice are to meet dairy farmers on Monday in Llanelwedd, at the Royal Welsh Show.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said she had spoken to Ms Spelman who told her they hoped to broker a final agreement on a voluntary code of practice.

"I am due to attend the Royal Welsh Show with Caroline Spelman on Monday and will engage in further discussions with all those involved in the supply and sale of milk then," she added.

The BBC understands the government is also arranging to meet representatives of the big supermarkets in the next few days.

Campaign group Farmers for Action (FFA) is warning that cuts in the price paid to suppliers by dairy processors, combined with rising feed costs, could force hundreds of dairy farmers out of business.

The UK could end up having to import much of its milk, says the FFA.

It says supermarkets must pay more for milk and that this should come out of the retailers' profits rather than the cost being passed on to customers.

Image caption Some of the group supporting dairy farmers at Morrisons were dressed as cows

The group at Morrisons in Cardiff on Saturday - some dresses as cows - handed letters of support, signed by shoppers, to the store manager.

John Lougher, a farmer in the Vale of Glamorgan, said all dairy farmers wanted was a fairer share of the profit of milk.

"When the cream prices were way up last summer we didn't get the top price.

"But as soon as it starts dropping they turn back to the farmer and say you're going to have to take a 2p cut, the cream price has dropped back a bit."

'Negate their impact'

On Saturday, Morrisons announced it was increasing the premium to farmers on milk from 1p per litre (ppl) to 3ppl, as well as introducing support payments for farmers affected by the recent bad weather equivalent to 3ppl.

"The recent announcements by our processors will reduce the payment to farmers for the milk we sell and therefore we are announcing payments that negate their impact," said commercial director Richard Hodgson.

The increases - from 1 August when the processors' latest cuts come in - would help "to support all farmers not just those that have dedicated contracts", he said.

On Friday, Co-operative announced it would increase the premium it paid on milk to farmers within its group to 2.57 ppl with immediate effect and to 4.27ppl from 1 August.

Protests were held by hundreds of farmers - including from Wales - at processing plants in England on Thursday and Friday.

In the dairy industry, the processors set the price they pay farmers for their milk.

They say they have no choice but to make the cuts because the price they can sell cream for on the commodities market has fallen sharply in the past 12 to 18 months.

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