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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Fear milk price cuts will shut South Lakes dairy farms

SOUTH Lakes farmers say the latest planned cuts to the price of milk paid to diary farmers could put many out business.

50036180B001.jpg steve moris
CONCERN: Farmer Steve Morris at Wraysholme Tower Farm, between Allithwaite and Flookburgh, is angered by the continued reduction in price given for litres of milk by the milk companies, to the point that it is threatening the survival of many dairy farms

Several major milk processors have announced cuts of up to 2p per litre – meaning farmers will receive less than it costs them to produce the milk.

Stuart Webster, who has a herd of 140 cows at Aurora Park Farm in Scales, said: “We are going to be about £40,000 a year worse off.

“What makes them think my family can stand to take a knock like that?

“We have been not making money for a while now and we were just starting to breakeven.”

Mr Webster, 49, said farms of all sizes are under threat of closure from the price cuts.

He added: “It is stupid that bottled water is dearer than a bottle of milk.

“The supermarkets have got the processors to go into a bidding war and force the price of milk down.

“And they knock it off us because we are the easy target.” Steve Morris, who has around 150 cows at Wraysholme Tower Farm, between Allithwaite and Flookburgh, said: “I know for a fact it is going to put some people out of business. And I just put a new milking parlour in – I borrowed a lot of money for it.”

Mr Morris said previous cuts have meant he has struggled to afford to buy food for his family in the past.

He said: “You should not have to work seven days a week and 12 hours a day just to feed your family.

“My farm has been going for 100 years and this is the worst year we have had.

“My son wants to take over this farm one day and I just hope there is something left for him to take.”

At a meeting of the National Farmers’ Union on Wednesday farmers gave the processors until August 1 to reverse the cuts or face industrial action. Mr Morris said: “They are talking about pouring milk away and then there will be shortages.

“We are not trying to cause trouble and hurt families – it is not their fault.

“We just want to be able to make a living.”

Andrew Pye, NFU Ulverston group secretary, said: “There is no price written into most contracts which means the farmers really are in a poor negotiating position.”

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda all say they pay their farmers above the market rate.

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