Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Dairy farmers in blockade protest

Farmers For Action claims several companies 'are trying to kill the dairy industry altogether'

Hundreds of farmers are blockading milk processing plants at centres across England in a protest at the price they are paid.

Farmers For Action (FFA) said their supporters are outside at least three sites run by the firm Arla.

Vice-chairman Andrew Hemming said there were 400 farmers outside the Arla plant in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, in Leicestershire, and around 600 to 700 outside a plant in Bridgwater, Somerset, run by the same firm.

He said there was another protest in Leeds and he had also heard about a demonstration in Kent.

Mr Hemming said he had been told there were about 100 tractors at the Bridgwater protest. He said he did not have any information about the numbers at the Leeds plant. But Mr Hemming said he was outside the plant in Ashby where it was a "fantastic turn-out".

"We've had a lot of support, not just from FFA members but a lot of other farmers too," he said. "It just shows the strength of feeling there is. There are quite a few tractors out and we've got tankers here waiting to come in. We've spoken to the plant manager and I don't think he's too happy but we've told him we're staying until someone higher up comes to talk to us."

Mr Hemming said Farmers For Action was specifically targeting Arla. He said: "They are one of the big three who are trying to kill the dairy industry altogether."

The action is the latest in a series of protests by dairy farmers angry about cuts of up to 2p a litre in the amount they receive from major milk processors. They say that many are being pushed to the brink and may be forced out of business, pushing up the price of milk for consumers in the long term.

The action is the latest in a series of protests by dairy farmers angry about cuts of up to 2p a litre in the amount they receive from major milk processors. They say they that many are being pushed to the brink and may be forced out of business, pushing up the price of milk for consumers in the long term.

Celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall stepped into the debate as they urged the public to boycott some supermarkets over cuts to the price of milk. In a letter to The Times, Oliver and Fearnley-Whittingstall said it was "shocking" that many dairy farmers were to be paid less for their milk than it costs them to produce it, adding that the industry was becoming unviable.

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