Government plans dairy crisis talks
The Government is to have talks with dairy farmers following two nights of protests over the prices paid to milk suppliers.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and Farming Minister Jim Paice are to meet farmers, milk processors and supermarkets next week, a spokesman for Defra confirmed.
The ministers will hold talks at the Royal Welsh Show, in Powys, on Monday to try to resolve the crisis in the dairy industry.
Dairy farmers are furious about cuts of up to 2p a litre in the amount they receive from major milk processors and many fear the shortfall will force them out of business.
The two nights of demonstrations are the latest in a series of protests by farmers who are angry that they are to be paid less for their milk than it costs to produce it.
The Co-operative and Morrisons supermarket chains have responded to the protests by announcing rises in premiums paid for milk to farmers.
Mr Paice said on Friday that he would be holding a meeting next week with representatives of the big supermarkets to try to get agreement to introduce a voluntary code for contracts.
The protest 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.
They have vowed to continue protests outside milk processing plants until they receive a better deal. The FFA said about 750 of its members turned out on Friday night to demonstrate outside the Robert Wiseman dairy in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, and another plant at Foston, Derbyshire.
Vice chairman Andrew Hemming, who farms near Hockley Heath, West Midlands, said: "It's hard work - it's annoying that we have to go to these lengths to make common sense prevail. "We had a fantastic turn-out at Foston - towards the end there were nearly 500 farmers up there and they blockaded until 3am."