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Are Farmers Milking it… The Milk Price Protest

Following 70 farmers and 2 cows being herded through an Asda supermarket yesterday, an emergency summit of the four major unions, the Ulster Farmers’ Union, the NFU, the NFU Cymru and NFU Scotland was held on Monday in London to discuss the plummeting price for milk and try to alleviate the problem. And today, Morrisons have agreed to meet with leaders of the National Farmers Union and Farmers for Action, to discuss the price of milk and try to come to some agreement about the price they are being paid, in order to cover the cost of production.

In October 2013, the price farmers were being paid per litre was around 34p, however in less than two years, this has fallen by more than 10ppl, to just 23.66ppl; set to fall again as Arla cut the price per litre by a further 0.8p.

In order to voice their opinions, farmers have come together to create the ‘milk trolley challenge’, where farmers leave milk shelves bare as they fill their trolleys and either pay for all the milk at the checkout, or dump the entire trolley and leave. Alongside this was the storming of Asda with two cows; which many locals and farmers have ridiculed as being totally unprofessional and dangerous for the general public, in case the cows lash out. Farmers have said they need at least 30ppl in order to generate some kind of a profit on their milk production, and this is nowhere near being met.

Dairy farmers in Northern Ireland have said their livelihoods are no longer suitable and many farmers have already been forced to sell their cows, as they can no longer afford to look after them.

This small amount of 10ppl may not seem like a lot, but when a farmer is producing 2000litres at a time, this 10p quickly adds up. A dairy farmer in Somerset has looked over his figures with the latest price crunch of 0.8p, that will be an extra £1000 loss per month and annually, he is looking at a £152,000 loss, meaning he too, could lose his cows.

The reason for this fall in price is due to over production of milk by UK dairy farmers and it being cheaper to import from overseas, which supermarkets are taking advantage of and we as consumers aren’t complaining about the lower price of milk. Mark Armstrong, head of Milk supply at Müller said “We are seeing a significant imbalance between supply and demand in the UK and globally, and this is weighing heavily on the value of the milk produced by farmers”.

Are dairy farmers right to protest the prices? Or have they brought this upon themselves by over producing?

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