Norfolk farmers’ appeal over milk prices

PUBLISHED: 20:04 07 July 2012

Dairy farmer William Brigham of Lyng. Photo: Denise Bradley.

Dairy farmer William Brigham of Lyng. Photo: Denise Bradley.

Archant © 2007

A “Name and Shame” campaign to highlight retailers selling milk below the cost of production might just prevent an exodus from dairy farming, a leading Norfolk producer said last night.

A “Name and Shame” campaign to highlight retailers selling milk below the cost of production might just prevent an exodus from dairy farming, a leading Norfolk producer said last night.

In a grim warning, former Norfolk National Farmers’ Union chairman William Brigham predicted more herds would be forced out in East Anglia as many producers will be losing about 6p on every litre of milk produced from August.

“We’ve got to make the buying public aware that unless something happens that there will be a mass exodus in milk production particularly in this part of the world,” he said.

Mr Brigham praised farmers’ leader Peter Kendall who yesterday thanked retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer for paying a reasonable milk price. But the NFU president accused others including Morrisons, Asda and the Co-op for buying cut-price milk and forcing producers to make losses of tens of thousands of pounds.

The NFU, which will hold an emergency summit in London on Wednesday, wants the two milk price cuts scrapped from next month. It says that many of the 10,724 dairy farmers in England and Wales will be losing about 5p on every litre sold to the country’s milk buyers and processors.

On Mr Brigham’s family farm at Lyng, near Dereham, his milk price will fall to about 25p per litre from August – the second cut in four months – and well below the accepted industry break-even price of 29.33p per litre.

“We should have a name and shame campaign. We should highlight those paying a reasonable price and shame those who don’t pay a fair price for milk,” said Mr Brigham, who is the former district chairman of the Arla producers’ group representing about three dozen fellow farmers across East Anglia.

He also said that dairy farmers could follow the pig industry’s example and launch a poster and roadside banner campaign to highlight the need for retailers to pay a fair price for milk. “It has been extremely successful in bringing the pig industry’s plight to public notice,” he added.

And it is a nonsense too that milk is cheaper than a bottle of mineral water, said Mr Brigham, who runs a pedigree dairy herd of Holsteins. “May be we should campaign for a Fair Trade scheme for dairy farmers,” he added.

Mr Brigham said that the discount retailers, which sold milk for as little as £1 for a four-pint bottle, were driving prices down. “When they’re selling so cheaply, it is even hurting retailers like Tesco and Sainsbury’s which paid a reasonable price back to producers,” he added.

The anger in the industry was sparked by the latest cut of about 2p per litre in the farmgate price by three processors. Just two months ago, they imposed a similar cut forcing dairy farmers into making losses.

Earlier this week, another East Anglia dairy herd of 200 Holsteins from Gisleham, near Lowestoft, ending 60 years of milk production for John Collen, and his father, Bryan. After losing money for the past two years, including £50,000 last year, it was time to call a halt.

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  • Compare and contrast. David Cameron condemning bus drivers and the Unions for striking over the Olympics. David Cameron refusing to condemn the farmers for threatening to strike over milk prices over the Olympics.

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    Saturday, July 7, 2012

  • In years to come the drinking of cow’s milk will become a thing of the past, just where did anyone get the idea that cow's milk is good or nutritional? The human digestive tract has great difficulty or impossibility digesting milk because it is for baby cows and not humans. It causes eczema and diarrhoea and it’s contaminated with antibiotics, pesticides, pus and blood. The calcium in the milk is not well absorbed by humans and actually cause bones to lose more calcium...and has been found to contribute to osteoporosis, you can’t give it to cats or dogs because it makes them sick...why would you give it to humans??

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    John L Norton

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

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