Farmers blockade Morrisons depot in Bridgwater in milk price protest (From Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News)
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Farmers blockade Morrisons depot in Bridgwater in milk price protest
Updated 12:47pm Friday 6th September 2013 in News
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MORE than 150 frustrated dairy farmers blockaded the Morrisons depot in Sedgemoor last night (September 5) to demand a fair price for milk.
Farmers for Action (FFA), the campaign group which led the blockade, said although they received a higher price-per-litre last year, they are now making a loss due to rises in the costs of production.
Just over 150 farmers with around 30 tractors and farm machinery swarmed the Morrisons depot at around 8pm and continued to block lorries from entering or leaving until around midnight.
Chairman of Farmers for Action, David Handley, handed over a letter at the blockade, destined for the head of Morrisons regional distribution, saying processors told FFA the company was refusing to pay better prices for milk and asking Morrisons where the money was going in the supply chain.
James Badman, Somerset coordinator for FFA, told the Mercury: “We have no problem with the staff, we’re just trying to engage in negotiations.
“We have not received a response to the letter yet, but the sooner we do the better, or there may be another blockade.
“Other farmers from across the country are now considering taking action.”
Mr Badman said payment to farmers also needs to be more in line with the rise and fall in the overall market and that currently, a rise in market profits takes too long to reach farmgate level.
He added: “On-farm costs have increased, but the marketplace is delivering an all time high level. Part of the agreement at the end of the SOS Dairy campaign last summer was that farmers received a fair share of the price, but we are still finding 2p-a-litre seems to be unaccounted for.
“Consumers are saying they would be prepared to pay more for milk, but that’s not what we’re asking. We just want a fair share of the cake - but right now, farmers feel they are being ripped off.”
Meanwhile, a Morrisons spokesman said: “We buy the milk sold in our stores directly from a processor, who set the price received by the farmer for each litre they produce.
“The increases we have made in the amount we pay to processors since last summer have resulted in a rise of more than 4p per litre for farmers, bringing milk prices to their highest level in recent years.”
AROUND 100 farmers with about 20 tractors have blockaded the huge Morrisons depot beside the M5 near Bridgwater.
The demonstration is in protest at the price supermarkets pay to buy milk from farmers.
They say the protest, which began at 8.15pm, will go on until midnight.
Farmers for Action say that although supermarkets are paying more than last year, farmers have been hit by increased production costs.
The group's chairman David Handley told the BBC: "We've been told by the processors that the company is refusing to pay better prices and we want to give the company the chance to respond."
Mr Handley has written to Morrisons and says farmers will mount a similar protest next week if the company fails to respond.
The BBC reported that Morrisons has not commented on the farmers' action.
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