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Plea for calm in milk furore
A LEADING Cumbrian dairy farmer has hit out at calls for milk to be ‘poured down the drain’ as a protest against price cuts.
Russell Bowman, Eden-based member of the NFU’s North West Dai-ry Board, warned agai-nst farmers indulging in a ‘short-term knee jerk reaction’ to the milk crisis.
As dairy farmers gathered in London for the NFU’s ‘dairy summ-it’ and demonstration yesterday, Mr Bowman told The Westmorland Gazette: “What is need-ed is fundamental ref-orm to put milk production on a more professional footing.
“Dumping milk will not solve the problems facing the sector. Anyway, they might talk about such action but I doubt any farmer would do it. If you’ve got 150 cows you could have a tank of milk worth between £2,000 and £3,000. Nobody’s going to pour that down the drain.”
Mr Bowman pointed out that many dairy farmers were members of processing co-op-eratives and they sho-uld not take action that could damage those businesses.
He also opposed talk of blockading milk supplies to the Olym-pics.
“If dairy farmers do that they’ll lose public sympathy and support straight away,” said Mr Bowman, who predict-ed milk prices could begin to rise in the autumn.
Meanwhile, Westmor-land and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has told Parliament that the recent milk price cuts could cost dairy farmers up to £53,000 in lost income.
Mr Farron used ques-tions to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the House of Commons on Thursday to call on the Government to take immediate action to help dairy farmers, many of whom have been hit with a second ‘unfair’ price cut in as many months.
In May 2012, four major dairy processors: Dairy Crest, Robert Wiseman, Arla and Muller, announced a cut of two pence per litre in the price paid to dairy farmers for milk, which on its own could cost some dairy farm-ers up to £20,000 per year.
However, this has inexplicably been foll-owed by a further cut of 1.7ppl by Robert Wise-man, 2.0ppl by Arla, 1.65ppl by Dairy Crest, which will take effect from August 1.
In the Commons, Mr Farron pressed Farm-ing Minister Jim Paice to take action and urgently call together dairy processors and buyers to address the milk price issue.
He claimed proce-ssors were not only ‘morally wrong’, but also ‘destructive to the industry’, pointing out that low milk prices had already led to a 50 per cent drop in the number of dairy hold-ings across the UK between 1995 and 2010.
“This most recent cut in prices by three of the major dairy processors is completely outra-geous,” said Mr Farron. “Farmers across Cumb-ria are struggling as it is and this drop will now see many of them losing out to the tune of up to six pence per litre, which will cost their businesses dearly.”