Farming unions will hold an “urgent summit” this week to discuss milk prices after the latest protest saw two cows led into an Asda supermarket.
- Farmers take cows into Asda store in latest protest over milk prices
- Comes as unions prepare to meet Morrisons chiefs on Tuesday
- Morrisons says it is “not seeking any further reductions in milk prices”
Farmers staged a string of protests last week against supermarkets including Tesco, Lidl and Morrisons, where around 1,000 farmers and their families staged mass action at the supermarket’s Bridgewater warehouse in Somerset.
The campaigners have been taking part in so-called ‘milk trolley challenges’, removing all cartons of milk from the shopfloor and either paying for them and handing them out to customers outside stores, or dumping loaded trolleys at the checkouts.
The latest protest took place yesterday, as around 70 farmers took two cows into Asda’s Stafford supermarket to clear the shelves of milk.
Campaigners claim they are being paid less than the cost of production for their milk as supermarkets slash prices to better compete with the likes of Aldi and Lidl.
Asda’s milk is supplied by the Arla farmer cooperative, which is owned by farmers. It means the price received by Asda’s farmers is set by their own cooperative business.
The UK’s four main farming unions, the National Farmers Union (NFU), NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers’ Union will meet Morrisons bosses tomorrow to discuss the price row, according to the BBC, after NFU president Meurig Raymond labelled the situation “a crisis”.
Morrisons, which has threatened protesting farmers with legal action, said: “We are disappointed with the disruption being caused to our stores and our customers. We recognise that the current issue is being caused by a reduction in global demand for milk that has led to an over-supply in the UK and very difficult conditions for many dairy farmers.
“We want to reiterate that we are not seeking any further reductions in milk prices and we will continue our talks with the NFU, in a constructive manner, to finalise our agreed plan of action.”
The British Retail Consortium said: “There is no connection between the price of milk in supermarkets and the price retailers pay farmers for their milk. The retail industry pays a fair price with individual retailers using different payment models.
“We understand the current frustration of farmers, but it is wrong to blame retailers. Retailers are giving great support to dairy farmers through collaboration with groups of farmers to get the best milk price to clear labelling of the country of origin of cheese and butter.
“Unfortunately, this only helps a proportion of farmers as much of the UK’s dairy output is subject to the global market and the recent downturn has meant prices have fallen for many farmers.”