Farmers and the bosses of Shropshire-based Muller Dairies have held ‘robust and constructive’ talks aimed at settling the ongoing dispute over milk prices.
Members of the National Farmers’ Union and the campaign group Farmers for Action had a meeting with Muller company chiefs at the NFU headquarters in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, yesterday afternoon.
The meeting, attended by Muller chief executive Ronald Kers, follows widespread protests by farmers this summer against several big dairy processors’ plans to cut the amount they pay for milk by up to 2p a litre.
Muller, which has its UK headquarters in Market Drayton, said it was ‘committed’ to talks with the coalition of dairy farmers and union leaders.
Spokesman Graeme Jack said it had confirmed details of an agreement which could ‘hopefully lead to new rules on how farm gate milk could be valued in future’.
He added: “We believe it’s time to start to move on from what has been a very difficult period for the dairy supply chain and we welcome discussions which help to achieve this end.”
David Handley, Farmers for Action chairman, said it had been a ‘very robust meeting’. “We shared our views about the seriousness of the situation that we find ourselves in,” he added.
Mr Handley said there had been ‘a lot of common ground’ and he was hopeful that the two sides could work together.
Robert Wiseman Dairies, which is owned by Muller, was proposing cuts of 1.73p per litre to the price it pays dairy farmers for milk, leaving many farmers fearing for their future. They would have been selling a litre of milk for less than 25p but spending 30p to produce it.
It led to a series of protests at dairies around the country, including the Muller and Robert Wiseman sites in Market Drayton.
The plans were shelved late last month, but talks on a way forward are continue.