Milk prices row: Farming unions call emergency summit


Four farming unions are due to meet for an emergency summit amid a "crisis" over milk prices.

There have been protests across the UK as farmers make clear their frustrations at what they have described as the "unfair" milk price, which is seeing them lose almost 10p a litre in some cases.

The four main unions, the NFU Cymru, the NFU, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers Union, will meet in London.

In a joint statement, the leaders said: "UK farmers do have the potential to play an enormous part in the economic recovery of the UK and, at the same time, to provide much more of the food the country needs.

"Therefore we call on the UK farming ministers to meet jointly with us as soon as possible to identify what they can do to alleviate the very serious problems facing our industry and help UK farmers reach their very real potential."

The situation has developed into a crisis, NFU president Meurig Raymond told the BBC.

He said: "The situation many of our members are experiencing has become a crisis.

"In dairy, many milk producers have seen price cut after price cut.

"It's simply not sustainable for any farmer to continue to produce milk if they're selling it at a loss."

Protesters across the country have been taking part in the Milk Trolley Challenge and blockading Morrisons distribution centres in Somerset and Cheshire.

The challenge sees farmers removing all cartons of milk from shops including Morrisons and Lidl before paying for it and taking it away or dumping it at the checkout.

On Sunday, as part of the ongoing protests two cows were herded through the aisles of an Asda store in Stafford.

Police were called to the store after the heifers were accompanied by around 70 protesters.

In a video posted online of the protest, one of the campaigners said: "This milk should not be cheaper than a bottle of water."

Arla, Britian's biggest milk co-operative, previously announced a price cut of 0.8p per litre - taking the standard litre price to 23.01p for its UK members.

Farmers estimate that it costs between 30 to 32p to produce each litre of milk, meaning they are losing almost 10p per litre.

A spokeswoman for Arla has said the co-operative is "acutely aware" of difficulties farmers are facing.

Morrisons are due to meet farming industry leaders this week to discuss the issue.

A spokesman for the supermarket said they are aware that many dairy farmers are experiencing "difficult conditions" and maintained they are not seeking any further reductions in milk prices.