In a joint statement issued yesterday, Arla Foods UK’s farmer board directors, its farmer board of representatives, and its milk partnership farmer board members questioned “the motive” of FFA members that protest against farmer-owned businesses such as Arla.
The statement comes just weeks after the FFA, which is demanding an improved standard litre milk price, launched a fresh set of demonstrations against dairy processors.
FFA protesters targeted Muller Wiseman Dairies’ Market Drayton processing facility and Arla Foods UK’s Ashby-de-la-Zouch manufacturing site earlier this month, creating blockades to disrupt the flow of traffic in and out of the sites.
More recently, around 300 FFA protesters converged on Arla UK’s headquarters in Leeds on Sunday 28 July, after negotiations between the two parties collapsed.
According to the FFA, around half of these 300 protesters were Arla UK milk suppliers.
“We question the motive of the farmers who are protesting against a farmer owned business,” said the Arla farmer statement. “Their actions are preventing a farmer-owned cooperative from going about its legal, daily, business and from collecting its farmers’ milk, through blocking vehicle movements into and out of the dairies.”
“If Arla is not able to collect a farmers’ milk, potentially, it is harming the livelihoods of these individual farmers because the company is not legally obliged to pay farmers for milk it is unable to collect.”
“In addition, the protesters’ actions are increasing costs at the site which, in turn, is financially damaging a business that is fully farmer owned and whose profits are returned to its farmer owners,” said the statement.
The statement added that in-line with Arla UK’s “cooperative principles” the company’s standard litre milk price, which stands at 31.91p, is one of the highest “not only in the UK, but in Europe.”
However, Arla UK milk suppliers receive closer to 30 pence per litre following deductions, FFA chairman, David Handley, told DairyReporter.com. This price is far short of current milk production costs, which Handley estimated at between 33 pence and 33.5 pence.
Dairy coop “acting like a PLC”
“We’re being painted as the ‘bad boys’ at the moment, but I can assure you we do not like to protest. It is a last resort for us,” said Handley.
“We have been in negotiations with Arla for several months regarding their milk prices, and we’ve asked them repeatedly why they aren't passing back some of their marketplace profits to farmers.”
“What we have here is a farmer-owned cooperative here, acting like a PLC,” Handley added.