MPs probe milk price cuts crisis

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MilkFarmers' representatives, supermarket chain Asda and food producers Dairy Crest are to be quizzed by MPs about the crisis in dairy farming caused by cuts in the price paid for milk.

More than 2,500 farmers gathered in London last week to protest about cuts of up to 2p a litre in the amount they receive from major milk processors.

They have warned that many dairy farmers are being pushed to the brink and may be forced out of business, pushing up the price of milk for consumers in the long term.

The latest cuts will see farmers being paid around 25p a litre for milk, compared to more than 30p it costs to produce.

Farmers are warning the cuts will lose them tens of thousands of pounds at a time when they are also facing rising feed costs and the impacts of having to keep cows inside in the bad weather.

They accuse some of the biggest retailers and processors of failing to pay a price that reflects production cost, and say that many farmers are locked into contracts for long periods but only get a few days' notice of price changes.

The Government has announced an extra £5 million from the rural economy grant scheme to help dairy farmers be more efficient, but insists it is not for ministers to try to set the price of a litre of milk.

Appearing before the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will be Pembrokeshire dairy farmer and chairman of the National Farmers Union Dairy Board Mansel Raymond, Asda's director of external affairs Paul Kelly and Mike Sheldon, group milk procurement director at Dairy Crest.

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