Milking public support

A GLAISDALE dairy farmer has warned that should the milk price crisis get worse then farmers would have no hesitation in starting up the protests of the last few weeks again.

Martin Burtt from York House Farm said demonstrations and blockades at dairy processing plants across the country, including Arla at Leeds, had had an effect and there were signs of a pin prick of light at the end of the tunnel.

For the last couple of years the National Farmers Union (NFU) had tried to initiate a contract between suppliers and retailers but progress was slow with the emphasis still lying with the dairies and supermarkets.

But following massive public backing for the farmers, meetings and the demonstrations, the formations of a contract are currently being put together and plans to cut payments to farmers by another two pence a litre, due to be brought in on Wednesday, have been put on the back-burner.

Key features of a potential contract include farmers being given 30 days notice before any price movement rather than just two to three days and farmers won’t be tied in to 12 months contracts but can get out after three.

Mr Burtt said: “I would like to say there is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel but there is a long way to go and we have got to make the most of it while we have got politicians and the general public on our side.”

He said that demonstrations had been difficult for farmers to attend but their strength of feeling on the situation meant they would do it again if they needed to.

He said: “Farmers did not go and stand outside the dairies til three and four in the morning for fun, especially when they had to start milking as soon as they got home.

“It was a serious business and they were determined to see it through. If we don’t get what we want demonstrations will be resumed -there are no two ways about it. These night time vigils were draining and difficult – the nearest one was Leeds and was an hour and a quarter away but where there is a will there is a way.”