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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Farming minister to meet Cumbrian dairy farmers hit price cuts

Farming minister Jim Paice will visit Cumbria next month and meet farmers hit by milk price cuts.

Jim Paice photo
Jim Paice

On August 14 he will visit the Lake District Creamery in Aspatria, owned by farming co-operative First Milk, and an Eden Valley dairy farm where he will speak with farmers.

News of his visit came as hundreds of farmers blockaded processing plants into the early hours of this morning in a protest against the milk price cuts.

Supporters of Farmers for Action used tractors to block a Robert Wiseman Dairy processing plant near Bridgwater, Somerset, last night, while other farmers gathered outside an Arla plant in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, and another plant in Leeds.

Mr Paice came under severe pressure at last week’s dairy summit in London and was even booed by thousands of farmers when he admitted he didn’t know the price of a pint of milk.

Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart, who has invited Mr Paice to visit, said agreement on a voluntary code of conduct for milk processors was just months away, with only Arla not yet agreeing to a three-month break clause in milk contracts.

Intensive talks have been underway for almost a year but unanimous agreement has proved elusive. Mr Stewart said: “If Arla doesn’t agree, we will legislate and make it statutory.”

He urged county farmers supplying Arla and Milk Link, another farming co-operative due to merge with Arla, to put pressure on the processors.

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