Farmers threaten action over milk


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The Independent Online

Dairy farmers are threatening to disrupt milk supplies next month to coincide with the London Olympics, in a dispute over "catastrophic" cuts to prices.

They say small dairies have been driven out of business after milk processors reduced payments, costing some farmers up to £50,000 a year.

They have set an 1 August deadline – five days after the Games begin – for the milk companies to abandon further planned cuts and are warning of possible further protests after that date.

David Handley, of the pressure group Farmers for Action and one of the leaders of the protests in 2000 over high fuel prices, told the BBC: "We are in desperation street."

He said: "There are a number of things we are working on, such as disrupting the milk supply. We just want a fair share of the supply chain and direct action, in whatever form it takes, will be carried out to make sure we get the ultimate gain, and that is to get our money back which I think has been robbed from us."

Peter Kendall, the president of the National Farmers Union, denied claims that the Olympics was being deliberately targeted. But he added: "We've got to draw attention to that date of 1 August and say, 'You must rescind those price cuts'."

The Agriculture Minister, Jim Paice, will hold talks with the two sides next week. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said ministers wanted to "get the industry together" to talk about the issues of market dominance.