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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Cumbrian dairy farmers could go out of business in next two months - claim

Dairy farmers warned they could start going out of business in as little as two months if their milk price does not improve.

Around 150 farmers gathered for a crisis meeting at The Shepherds Inn next to Borderway Mart on Tuesday night.

National Farmers’ Union dairy board chairman Mansel Raymond and chief dairy adviser Robert Newbery spoke about their recent negotiations with supermarkets, processors and Defra.

Mr Raymond said: “You can see the seriousness of the situation by the crowd of dairy farmers that is here tonight.

“This has been a month that has made me very angry. As dairy farmers, we’re not going to be pushed around anymore.

“The strength of the supermarkets is immense.”

He suggested that farmers could start going out of business in 12 to 18 months but one farmer in the audience said it could be as soon as two months.

Processors across the country rescinded 2p per litre price cuts for August following weeks of national farmer protests. But many farmers are paid less than the cost of production.

Work is underway to finalise a code of conduct that is hoped will deliver fairer contracts to farmers. This would include being given 30 days notice of a price change. Mr Raymond also said that the representation farmers had within dairy companies needed to be radically improved.

Work has started to create producer groups that would give farmers more negotiating power when selling their milk.

“The producer organisation could offer milk to the highest bidder if it’s properly run and has a professional negotiator,” added Mr Raymond.

Cumbrian NFU chairman Alan Dickinson urged farmers to write personal letters to their MPs and processing companies.

Farming minister Jim Paice will visit Cumbria for a farming conference on August 21 at Dolphenby Farm, near Penrith.

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