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Dairy farming crisis is averted as cut in milk price called off
A CRISIS has been averted for dairy farmers in the Knutsford area after a last minute U-turn on plans to cut the price of milk.
All major dairy processors have called off the August 1 price cut which would have caused many farmers to be paid less for milk than it costs to produce.
Farmers have been struggling to make ends meet since their pay was slashed in June, and said a further cut could have put them out of business.
Robert Wiseman Dairies, Arla Foods, Dairy Crest and First Milk called off the price reductions after pressure from the dairy coalition, including Cheshire’s branch of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).
“I was relieved,” said Stuart Yarwood, 56, of Lower Medhurst Green Farm, near Holmes Chapel.
“It gives us and many other farmers a lifeline, but that’s all it is because we’re no better off. We carry on because we believe there will be better times ahead.”
Robert Sheasby, NFU north west director, described the situation as a ‘crisis point’, while milk companies blamed a collapse in the value of cream.
Lower Medhurst Green Farm has been run by Stuart’s family for 90 years, and they have a herd of 250 cows.
Stuart, who has a contract with Dairy Crest, said: “I fully realise we’re in a volatile market and prices go up and down, but it’s frustrating that we don’t see the good times reflected in what we’re paid and only the bad.
“All I want is a fair deal. Cut the price of milk – that’s fine – but the dairy processors should take that out of their own margin, not mine.”
A spokesman for Robert Wiseman Dairies said: “The decision followed the significant loss of income we suffered further to the substantial decline in cream values which left us unable to sustain the milk price we were paying.
“The announcement of the reduction coincided with a period of adverse weather conditions and rising feed costs for dairy farmers, which we recognise has caused difficulties.
“We have been engaging with our customers with regards to the exceptional circumstances facing the supply chain and the need for urgent and significant support.
“We welcome whole industry recognition of the difficulties facing farmers and the acknowledgement that fresh milk processors are under severe financial pressure.
“We have confidence that we can work with our customers and farmers to address the obvious challenges that exist.”
Fiona Bruce, the MP for Holmes Chapel, Cranage and Goostrey, has arranged a meeting between Cheshire farmers and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs next month.