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British dairy farmers stage copycat protests at supermarkets

By Noel Mcadam

Angry dairy farmers in England have adopted the tactics of their Northern Ireland counterparts by staging protests at supermarkets.

The copycat action, which also included Wales, appeared to target the Morrisons retail group in particular.

It came as Ulster farmers' leaders appealed for an end to the protests to allow politics to tackle the problem of dramatically falling milk prices.

Following an emergency meeting of the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) diary committee yesterday, its president Ian Marshall praised the farmers who have staged supermarket protests.

His statement came a week after an emergency meeting of the Assembly's agriculture committee after which the UFU demanded a direct meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.

"I would pay tribute to our members and others who went to Stormont on the day of the special debate and then protested at supermarkets around Northern Ireland," Mr Marshall said. "This helped get our message across, and it also helped other farmers see they were not alone in their frustration."

He argued the tactics now have to switch from highlighting the case to winning the political battle at Stormont, in London and - crucially - in Brussels.

"There are no simple answers to what farmers are going through - but we will be bringing the industry together, including the banks, to help develop a strategy," Mr Marshall added.

As the Belfast Telegraph revealed on Monday, the region's five big banks and milk producers have agreed to a summit later this month, which the UFU described as "history-making".

Insisting the gathering, to be attended by Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill, would not be a "talking shop", Mr Marshall added: "We will be bringing the industry together to help develop a strategy that will allow farmers to survive what is going to be a very difficult winter for cashflows."

Belfast Telegraph


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