Milk prices still taste sour for farmers

LOCAL dairy farmers are still not getting a fair price despite new agreements between suppliers and supermarkets.

While those farmers who are on contracts with the larger supermarkets are now getting up to 32p per litre of milk, farmers in Whitby and the surrounding areas are only bringing in up to 29p because they are supplying dairies.

Martin Burt, a dairy farmer at York House Farm, Glaisdale and member of the National Farmer’s Union (NFU) dairy board, said although there had been some changes since the picket lines and protests of the summer local dairy farmers were still up against it.

He told the Gazette: “For the lucky few that have a contract there is a higher premium and a threshold of 31 and 32 pence per litre which is very good.

“But for the majority of us who are only supplying the Co-op we are getting 28 or 29 pence per litre - three pence short of what others are getting.

“Everybody is really struggling , the price we are getting is not adequate to covers costs.”

Prices for feed and fertiliser which Martin says is “through the roof” adds to the impact when are already unable to recoup through milk sales what they have already shelled out.

Last summer he warned the milk crisis would see the end of some long established local farmers. While he said he didn’t want to over dramatise the situation some farmers had stopped producing milk since then.

But smaller dairies had since set up and although the contracts being agreed with local farmers are not on a par with the likes of the big supermarkets it was good news.

He added: “One or two have come into the market that are smaller businesses that supply to schools and hospitals and they offer a better price. Quite a lot have been contracted to them and that takes the pressure off and thanks god they have changed the rules about being able to get out of contracts after three months instead of 12.”