Farmers For Action (FFA) has heralded a draft agreement between the farmers and processors as a “step in the right direction” but has vowed to continue its campaign against retailers and milk processors.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) and processor representative DairyUK met yesterday at the Royal Welsh Show, during which time they agreed on a number of minimum requirements and provisions for dairy contracts between farmers and milk buyers.
Despite this, FFA chairman David Handley told DairyReporter.com that the group is prepared to continue and expand its campaign and take its fight to Brussels if no significant changes are forthcoming.
Last week, FFA targeted a number of dairy processors and retailers, protesting over processor plans to cut the price paid to suppliers for raw milk and low retailer milk pricing.
UK retailers Morrisons and the Co-operative have both since committed to increasing their milk prices - a move that has been met with applause by the FFU.
Human rights violation
“We made it clear to everyone there that they have six months to show that it will work, if not we will approach the government and push for new legislation. According to our lawyers, there is no reason that the government cannot bring in that kind of legislation,” said Handley.
“If they are not prepared to do that, we will take our argument to Brussels,” he added.
“At the moment, people are being denied a livelihood. That’s a human rights violation. We are being deprived the opportunity to make a living, it is our right as dairy farmers.”
In the meantime, FFU intends to continue and expand its campaign by urging the public to boycott a number of brands – starting with Müller-owned Robert Wiseman Dairies.
It has also intends to target food service firms including the Compass Group, 3663 and Sodexo, even if it means disrupting their Olympic efforts.
“They will all be told they are the next target for our campaign. If they are not prepared to pay the price, pressure will be applied,” said Handley.
“They are big Olympic suppliers. We don’t want to ruin the Olympics, but what they are doing is immoral.”
Under the draft code agreed during the meeting, farmers must receive at least 30 days’ notice of a price change and retrospective price adjustments are no longer acceptable.
Other conditions include the ability of farmers to supply more than one processor when their primary milk buyer seeks to cap their production and the right to automatic contractual release for producers from insolvent purchasers.
“We are very pleased that Heads of Agreement have been reached on the voluntary code of practice,” said a DairyUK statement. “There is now a lot of work to be done in taking the code to the implementation stage and we are committed to doing this.”