Dairy farmers across Shropshire and Mid Wales were dealt another massive blow today as the cost of milk production rose to a new high.
According to the National Farmers Union, farmers are now paying around 31.5 pence to produce each litre of milk, but they are selling it to dairy firms for only 29.5p per litre.
The latest blow comes at the end of a summer of mass protests over the milk crisis and despite price rises announced by dairy companies, including Shropshire-based Muller Wiseman.
The Market Drayton dairy was blockaded three times over the summer by farmers who say they cannot afford to continue selling milk at a loss.
Luke Ryder, NFU dairy adviser, said: “Average farmgate milk price is still a good 2.5p per litre below the cost of production.
“The price rises have been welcomed, but the reality is that 29p -29.5p per litre are the headline prices, not necessarily achieved by everybody,” he added.
He said some farmers were already questioning how they would be able to manage this winter.
Andrew Bebb, who farms near Hanwood, said: “The current milk price is a vast improvement from where we were a few months ago but is shows how detached from reality the milk price was then.
“Due to spiralling costs we need to see 32 pence per litre for milk before Christmas for everyone, not just the select few.”
In Shropshire John Mercer, NFU regional director, said: “We have seen im-provements but we need to see farm gate prices that at the very least cover the costs of production.
“One of the main concerns we had over the summer was the impact rising feed costs would have and the implications for Shropshire farmers heading into the autumn and winter.
“This is not just a dairy issue but has an impact for livestock farmers.
“Farmers like all businesses need to see a fair return and the supply chain has to recognise it’s been a challenging year.”
By Andrew Owen