An MP from North Wales has urged the government to take note of angry Welsh dairy farmers who he says will take to the streets if retailers do not offer them more money for milk production.
Albert Owen, the Labour MP for Ynys Mon, has tabled a parliamentary motion in support for farmers protesting against "uneconomic" prices paid for milk. He urges the government to apply pressure on outlets to encourage them to use their profits to increase the price that milk in North Wales is supplied.
On 2 June 2003 the far gate price for milk in North Wales dropped more than 0.6 pence, making the average price paid by retailers just 17 pence. The continued weakening of the pound against the euro has caused farmers to demand an increase in the price to well over 20 pence.
Two weeks ago, hundreds of farmers blockaded milk processing plants in Devon, London, Shropshire, Derbyshire and Warwickshire in an attempt to put pressure on retailers to offer more money for milk. In Lothian and central Scotland, distribution depots run by Tesco and Asda were targeted.
The Ynys Mon MP decided to table a parliamentary motion after attending a delegation of farmers, who reported that one particular retailer was charging 75 pence for a litre of milk that was sold to the store at 17 pence.
"The farmers have very good cause for complaint and, unless things change, there is a strong possibility that direct action will spread," he told an icNorthWales reporter.
Dai Davies, the NFU Cymru vice president, last week met with farmers from Denbigh and Ruthin to discuss issues at their annual meeting. On the top of the list of priorities was to improve the price per litre for the dairy farmer.
"I am grateful to farmers for pulling together to show the strength of feeling in the dairy sector," Davies said at the meeting.
Owen believes that part of the problem in Wales is that dairy farmers have been "fragmented and have very little negotiating strength". But Davies said that the farmers must unite in order for there to be any changes. "The message I have given these farmers is that NFU Cymru is determined to ensure a two pence rise and we are looking hard to deliver this."
The Labour MP believes that his motion is likely to be signed by other Welsh MPs.