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Fears of milk and cream shortages at Christmas as farmers picket dairies in row over amount they are paid
02:02 GMT, 20 December 2012
Militant farmers are threatening a shortage of milk and cream over Christmas through blockades at some of the country’s biggest dairies.
The first was held last night at the Mller Wiseman Dairies in Droitwich, which is the biggest in the UK and produces two million litres of fresh milk a day for the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op.
A further blockade is threatened today at an Arla dairy at Stourton, Leeds, which produces 1.75million litres a day for Asda and Morrisons.
Farmers are threatening a shortage of milk and cream over Christmas through blockades at some of the country's biggest dairies
Farmers are also expected to protest outside a Dairy Crest plant in Foston, Derbyshire, which supplies hundreds of other stores.
Members of the Farmers For Action (FFA) group are behind the protests which industry insiders warn could seriously disrupt supplies of fresh milk and cream.
The action – protesting against the amount farmers are paid for their milk – is being co-ordinated via social networking sites, particularly Twitter.
One of the organisers tweeted: ‘Time we shut everywhere down at the same time arla, muller, dairy crest . Logistics etc stop everything who’s with us’.
Another warned: ‘Can see the supermarkets being short of cream etc this Xmas. I’d get stocked up now.’
One dairy industry insider said: ‘This is the peak period of the year, we are worried that supermarkets will not receive the milk and cream they are expecting, which could disrupt Christmas dinners.’
The blockades will affect the supply of milk to supermarkets. Farmers say they are not being paid enough and want supermarkets to give them a bigger share of the shop price
The FFA says farmers are not being paid enough for their milk and intend to force dairies and supermarkets to give a bigger share of the shop price to farmers.
One organiser, Paul Robottom, from Derbyshire, said: ‘The call has gone out to farmers all over the country. I would suspect hundreds of people will turn out over the next few days.
‘The point is that it costs a farmer a minimum of 32p a litre to produce their milk. They want to be covering their costs, but some are getting as little as 26p or 27p. That is no good for anyone.
‘People are in a financial embarrassment, they can’t pay the bills. Many are just giving up on dairy farming.’
Mr Robottom said: ‘We don’t want to do this, we don’t want to protest, but the result is that there may be a shortage of milk over Christmas.
‘Supermarkets have had a good deal out of milk for a long time. They make a good profit margin, but it is time some of that went back to the farmers.’
A series of protests earlier this year and a campaign by the National Farmers’ Union(NFU) triggered intervention by a government minister and the establishment of a voluntary code to protect dairy farmers.
Subsequently, a number of supermarkets, including Tesco, committed to ensure their dairy farmers are paid enough money to at least meet the cost of production.
However, the FFA says many farmers are continuing to make huge losses.