GOOD NEWS ON THE HORIZON FFA today have been in talks with Iceland who have announced that from next week all their cheddar cheese sold will be British. This has got to be a good move, again this is down to all the hard work that the Working Group has been putting in over the last few months. Although I am sure initially some will say how will we benefit? our answer is very simple. In the long term the more British cheese we can sell and get consumed by the British public this enables us to extract more money within the supply chain to feed back to hard pressed dairy farmers. FFA over the coming weeks will continue to put pressure on retailers and processors that more money is needed as a matter of urgency if we are to get dairy farming through what is going to be a very difficult winter. We are also hearing from those who supply our businesses in the ancillary industries, that they are now starting to find things very, very difficult. This now has to be recognised as a major crisis and has to be dealt with in the appropriate manner. It is good to see in the last week, that HRH the Prince of Wales has got involved, and that can only boost the profile for an industry that has major problems. We would now like to see organisations pull together like they never have before, and we must remember that whatever organisation,we are funded by our members and have a duty to go out there and try and achieve a sustainable price in whatever sector we are involved in.
PRODUCER GROUP MEETING Over the last 6/8 weeks the organisations have been meeting regularly and investigating ways and means to secure a medium to long term solution to market volatility. One of the things that has been investigated is Producer Organisations. Last Friday at a meeting in Carlisle we tried to pull all that work together so that we can produce some information for farmers to read and get a better understanding of exactly what a PO could deliver to their business. Hopefully this will be available fairly shortly, it will be obtainable from the organisations that have taken part. We will also make sure that we get the relevant information to the farming media and there is an intention of taking it out across the country in the form of regional meetings where it can be explained. We can get the view of farming members so it can be taken forward by any interested parties who are considering producer organisations as a way forward.
RECENT PROTESTS FFA completely understand what has driven certain individuals to commence protests again but a word of caution, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes just like the one that has been announced above today from Iceland and these could be jeopardised by this form of sporadic protest. When protesting, as FFA has shown over the last 15 years there has to be a goal and there has to be a justified reason otherwise it is protest for protest sake. If it returns nothing to the farming industry, what has this energy being expelled achieved. In the coming weeks no doubt pressure will have to be applied within the supply chain to get more money but lets all try and do it together as one, with one voice, we may then get the money that is so desperately needed by all. Egos and personal agendas are not good for the industry, it is pointless and what could happen is that this type of protest will make those targetted choose to deal with genuine protest in a totally difference way, we will then be in big trouble.
FFA will be meeting in the early part of next week, when we will be discussing where we are, what we have achieved so far and what we have to do urgently going forward. I hope everybody will be ready for the call that will follow but it will only be at targets that are going to bring back that money that is so desperately needed.
There is great issue being made by a small minority in respect of Iceland's realignment of retail prices for milk. I feel the record should be put straight on this issue. Firstly, it is abhorrent that liquid milk is used by any retailer to get foot fall through their stores. An issue that this government and governments before have choose to ignore.
• Retail pricing is not in the remit of any farming organisation, we cannot get involved in individual businesses pricing. If we do we risk issues with competition law.
• Iceland have realigned their liquid milk line, what everyone is failing to see is that their biggest selling line, 4 pints, has risen from 79p to £1. This is the important part of what has happened. Every other retailer's biggest selling line is 4 pints. They continually tell us in negotiations that it is all the discounters' fault, (the likes of Iceland) that 4 pint prices have fallen. Therefore what Iceland have done is set the challenge for all other retailers now to raise the price of 4 pints of milk to at least £1 and if they really want to show that they are concerned about the British dairy farming industry they should get it up to a price that allows dairy farming to be come profitable again. All fighting and bickering and trying to score points achieves nothing in the farming industry all it does is allow those who want to abuse their power to carry on doing so.
• So my message to all you critics over Iceland is get behind the organisations who are out there trying to deal with the likes of Farm Foods and the food service industry who are still paying well below prices paid by Iceland to their milk processor. Also we should continue massive pressure on milk processors in respect of why they are not beating the door down of every customer demanding more money for the dairy supply chain.
• Iceland's pricing structure is very simple, their buying price is linked to the farm gate price, all the processor has to do is put the price up paid to his farmers, go to Iceland and he will get the money. If every retailer did this British dairying would be a lot healthier than it is today. I hope this is an end to this matter but very much doubt that it will be, as there are always those who want to cause mischief, play the blame game and want to use personal jibes against individuals who are working 24/7 to try and improve a dire situation.
Remember, there are a lot of dairy farmers who may not make this winter because of the milk price they are being paid, so I would suggest put your energy into helping our cause and supporting those producers, instead of criticising. This includes some people in the media who choose a lazy way of getting their information for a story by copying what is said on websites. A true journalist investigates the story and gets the facts right and doesn't listen to individuals who are sat somewhere in the middle of the countryside in their tractor, feeling bored and want to stir the caldron. Halloween is a week or so away!
The working group of organisations will be meeting this coming Friday hope to be able to make some announcements with regard to all the meetings that have taken place over past weeks looking into medium and long term solutions for British dairy farming, which hopefully in the future will help us as dairy farmers cope with the volatile global market and how it is impacting on our milk prices. When this documentation is presented to the industry, I hope people read it, study it and through the correct channels come back to the people concerned and air your views. No doubt the nucleus of mischief makers who will always make a negative out of anything positive, will be doing their usual but this time you will be held to account, if you have a better idea you had better bring it to the table as this is your opportunity. David Handley Chairman FFA
STOP PRESS A major retailer has finally recognised milk is too cheap and at the beginning of next week intends to increase the value of liquid milk. We in the industry have been saying this should have happened long ago, a fantastic food product priced to throw away. Well now someone has taken the initiative, we will be expecting to see all other retailers move very quickly when this announcement becomes public. We will also expect to hear that all milk processors are out there getting our share of the money. If not, more positive action may be needed to persuade them.
BASKET PRICING We are getting a number of members contacting us to know why their milk price is not moving with all the retailer initiatives that are taking place? This is happening because the major milk processors are making sure that the initiatives are totally transparent for everyone to see that they are passing all the money back. What we would say to all processors that operate a basket price is why don't you go to direct pricing? Then everyone would know that all the monies you are recovering from your markets are being passed back to your producers.
Following recent meetings,most members will now be starting to see the money coming through from earlier activies being carried out by the farming community. Obviously one of the biggest announcements was Muller - a massive 1.6ppl I know some will say a small number of farmers only will achieve this in their milk cheque but what it does more importantly is send a strong message to all others in the supply chain that this money has to keep coming, it has to keep coming faster and the amounts need to get bigger, if British dairying is to survive in the long term. We continue to fight on your behalf with meetings virtually every other day of the week with retailers and members of the food service industry. Our message is farmers have to get cash into their bank accounts before we enter the winter period. A number of milk processors are still dragging their feet on the issue of acquiring the monies dairy farmers require. Our message to them is simple if you want to avoid further protests by farmers you need to get a move on. To any retailer out there or food service company who are not coming up to the table even for dialogue, Christmas is coming and we don't want to see in 2015 further protests but within the supply chain if we do not see more money that is going to be inevitable. Farmers are not just going to sit back and watch their businesses go under because of lack of cash. We will continue to update on further meetings.
South West Dairy Event (David Handley) Many of you will have seen reports in the farming press with regard to the farming debate held at this event on Wednesday. I was absolutely furious at the attitude of Gwyn Jones head of AHDB Dairy. He chooses to ignore the issue of supply and demand, he consistently encourages people to produce more milk when there is no market either at home of globally for that product but then you can understand I suppose his attitude because for every extra litre produced is another .06ppl into his coffers and with the salaries paid, boy do they need it! It sickens me that in 2015 this organisation is the tail wagging the dog. AHDB are about to put out a consultation document, I wonder if Mr Jones will be brave enough to put a box in that document which gives dairy farmers the opportunity to opt in or opt out of paying the levy. If that was done I think Mr Jones would very quickly realise his sort of language and the way this board is run is not going to be acceptable to the hard working dairy farmers who who pay his wages. Why oh Why are we still getting consistently recycled ex NFU officers or staff being put into highly paid positions, surely this is a big question to be answered and maybe it is time farmers right across the country wrote to their MP and asked the question is,AHDB fit for purpose? and is it value for money? I am sure a lot of MPs who want to make a name of themselves especially in dairy areas will want to get their teeth into this one.
Although we have a FFA Sponsors Page, we would just like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors for their generous support:-
Harpers Feeds/Massey Feeds, Holsworthy Devon
Clyderwen & Cardiganshire Farmers Ltd, Clynderwen, Pembs
Three Counties Feeds, Tiverton, Devon
Market Hall Vets, St Clears, Carmarthenshire
Mole Valley Farmers, South Molton, Devon
ForFarmers, Wherstead, Suffolk
Advance Tyre Specialists Ltd, Holsworthy, Devon
The Beeline Co, Wormbridge, Hfds
Thank you all.
It is just quite disheartening that in these challenging times, and with so many ancilliary businesses servicing our industry, it is just these above companies who have been so generous with their support.
LATEST UPDATE 19/9/15 Money still continues to come down the supply chain, although some milk processors seem to be very slow at delivering it to hard hit dairy farmers. Pressure is being applied on a daily basis to everyone in the supply chain that more money is needed and needed urgently.
MORRISONS No money has yet been forthcoming to Lactalis milk suppliers or any information regarding what the amounts may be. Surely they have had enough time now to work out what their October milk price will be. You would also beg the question, why has the so called Producer Group led by Rory Christie not contacted all its members to give them a progress report. If this is how POs are going to work in the future, i.e. not communicating with its membership then I think they are dead in the water. Some members tell me they have not heard from the Group's committee for over 18 months, not a good advert for a PO going forward. Here is a unique opportunity to show how a PO does work as we have got the money from Morrisons, they should be on a daily basis bombarding Lactalis - where is the money and how much? If they can't do this simple operation and get it back to its members, we say what is the point in the Group at all?
FIRST MILK We are obviously very disappointed that First Milk, a farmer owned Co-op, has decided all the money we have achieved from Tesco on milk for cheese, has gone to one group of farmers. Our thoughts would have been as a Co-op the money should have been shared by all as all members would have contributed to building the factories. FFA does not feel it can get involved in this issue as this is surely between the First Milk Co-op members and ultimately their farmer board, but we have expressed our concerns to both Adams Foods and Tesco about the way this money has been distributed.
ADAMS FOODS A meeting was held this week with the above in relation to the cheese market, all those present at the meeting were generally satisfied that what we were told was as near as accurate of the current situation as we could expect. We will continue to work with Adams through dialogue going forward over the coming weeks, to make sure any monies recovered from the current price increases from retailers and food service industry gets back to the primary producer. RETAILERS Meetings continue to be held on an almost daily basis with retailers and the food service sector to attempt to extract more money into the supply chain get this to dairy farmers and other sectors as fast as possible. It is a slow process but it has to be done. Current meetings have been with Iceland, Asda, Tesco. More meetings over the next week to 10 days with Sainsburys, Tesco again and others.
MILK PROCESSORS We are in dialogue with milk processors on a regular basis, meetings were held this week with Meadow Foods, other meetings are planned in the coming weeks. We have to keep piling the pressure on these people to make sure that all monies coming through the supply chain do not stick to the sides, and get back to the primary producer. We expect to see further increases announced by processors over the coming weeks. If we do not we feel that further protest action is going to be necessary. We know for some things out there are very difficult but talks are essential to achieve the end goal which is to get money. Just protesting for the sake of a night out will not achieve anything, there has to be a purpose. But we are sure in coming weeks we will be calling on farmers again to show support for protest as some of the above seem reluctant to either ask for increases or if they have got them from their customers are reluctant to hand them over.
LAMB Some progress has been made with retailers and processors on the current situation facing British sheep farmers (especially around importation of NZ lamb) We have already got agreements from Asda, from the Co-op and hopefully very soon from Tesco on packages that we hope will help struggling sheep farmers going forward. All the meetings have been very positive and I do believe there is a will on both sides to make something happen. We will update as more information comes through.
David Handley, FFA Chairman, meeting SNP MPs in Scotland today at their request regarding the situation regarding First Milk and Tesco.
4/9/15 UPDATE ON THIS WEEKS MEETINGS TESCO Obviously we reported earlier in the week of the success at Tesco but unfortunately we are now picking up very uncomfortable noises of where First Milk are going to allocate the money. It was our understanding at the meeting with Tesco that for the winter period the money would be going to all First Milk producers. It appears the executive at First Milk have other ideas but I think that is for First Milk to sort out internally, we have helped deliver the money. CO-OP We met the Co-op yesterday on both lamb and milk. On lamb I think we made some progress, certainly the key element was the decision yesterday that for the foreseeable future, the Co-op will not commit to NZ lamb for the period 2016. A number of other proposals were put forward on how we could improve lamb prices in a very rapid manner, the Co-op team have to take that back to their board, have their discussions and we will be reconvening early next week. On milk we know that they have a dedicated supply for liquid which seems to work very well, whether we agree with aligned contracts is a discussion for another day but at least they are paying cost of production. On cheese they are committed to own brand being 100% British and their current price paid to their processor is considerably above the minimum farm gate price being asked for going forward. We therefore, over the next week, intend to meet with both their cheese manufacturer and their cheese processor.
MORRISONS At this morning's conference call with Morrisons they have confirmed as of Monday they will be paying a minimum farm gate price for their cheese during the next six months. There will be a statement issued with the exact numbers by Morrisons which will be sent to us and as soon as we have it we will post it for you all to see. I think it is good news alround, it is going to be in the form of a supplementary payment therefore it will be transparent for us to be sure that the processors pay the money back in full to dairy farmers.
GENERAL A big thank you must go out to everybody who have played a part in making the above happen, there is not one individual that can claim credit, it has been a joint effort by all, sometimes not very easy, especially when people dish out negative comments when we believe we have had a result. We see that in the coming weeks many millions of pounds will be coming back into the dairy sector, that is something we have to be positive about. Is it going to be enough? that is a difficult question, it may not be for some but the battle is not yet over, we have a long way to go and a lot more money to extract over the next coming weeks. Milk processors from the top to the bottom, you are now going to come under our scrutiny and maybe you should be looking at your margin to see if you can pass some back to hard pressed dairy farmers. To all who have made cuts this week, you are the first on our list, some up in Middle England, I don't think you're going have to wait too long before you see many angry farmers outside your gates because whilst your profits rise on the back of you making price cuts to producers, I think you are about to get your just reward. The Working Group will be communicating together over the next couple of days to plan what we do next, please be patient, the foot is firmly on the accelerator and again a big thanks to you all, especially the young farmers
2/9/15 TESCO UPDATE Following on from our talks with Tesco on 19 August brought about by the direct action on 16 August at both Avonmouth and Widnes, both David Handley FFA and Michael Oates NFU met with them today. The outcome is as follows:- 1. All fresh milk sold in One Stop stores is Muller Wiseman branded and will carry Red Tractor logo from 1/12/15. 2. Clear and honest labelling on packaging. There are two products where they can be more transparent on labelling. They will both be rectified by January 2016. 3. Milk for cheese supplied by First Milk and South Caernarfon Creameries. As of 31/8/15 this price will be 29.93ppl and will be reflected in the cheese price that Tesco pays these processors. Farmers For Action believe this is a significant step by Tesco. As the No 1 British retailer they have recognised the serious situation that British dairy farmers find themselves in at the present time. A massive thank you goes out to all those who have supported recent activity, your patience has been rewarded by this outcome. We really appreciate that it has been a drawnout process. Although there is still a long way to go to enable British farmers to receive a sustainable price for their products, we are on the way. A more comprehensive report will be posted in due course.
1/9/15 MORRISONS UPDATE FFA and NFU met with senior representatives from Morrison’s to discuss how the business can add further support into the market for those farmers producing milk for cheese for the retailer. This was a constructive and robust meeting, we are pleased that Morrison’s were able reaffirm their commitments to provide a minimum price for liquid milk and launch the Milk for Farmer’s cheese and milk lines at the beginning of October. Within the meeting discussion where held on how Morrison’s could develop a winter support fund for farmers supplying milk for cheese. Over the coming days Morrison’s will be reviewing how they can make cost saving to bring money to the table for this fund, we will be speaking with Morrison’s again on Friday to review the outcome from this exercise.
29/8/15 MORRISONS UPDATE Morrisons have today contacted David Handley and a discussion took place regarding recent activities that have been taken place around the country regarding Morrisons reluctance to bring money for cheese to the table. It has been decided between both parties to hold a meeting on Tuesday 1 September with both Morrisons and the NFU in respect of the current crisis in the dairy industry. The meeting has been scheduled for 10 am on Tuesday morning and Morrisons have been left under no illusion that it is not a meeting just to talk, we have to come out with money for hard pressed dairy farmers. We strongly hope that progress will be made but please all stay close to your phones and computers as the outcome of the meeting will be posted asap after the meeting. Here at present is next week's Agenda Tuesday 1 Sept - Morrisons Wednesday 2 Sept - Co-op and hopefully Asda on on the lamb issue. Further meetings are to be held with both Iceland and Farm Foods and several food service companies.
28/8/15 MORRISONS UPDATE We have as yet had no telephone call from Morrisons. Saying that they decided to go to the NFU and told the President due to the pain we caused them last night/early this morning they are going to the Home Office! They also told the NFU that due to our protest vast amounts of perishable food will have to be discarded. So in fact what they are saying is that perishable food items in their Distribution Centres is very near its end date. Dairy farmers deal in a perishable food product and have to sell it for what is offered to them, we don't have the luxury of storing it until the price is right, so in a way what goes around comes around as dairy producers will soon be forced to discard their milk as many are losing 15ppl and more just to produce. Their cows will go, ok the younger animals will get sold on but the older ones, even though they are fit and healthy and still producing quality milk and would have stayed on the farm for several years yet, will go to slaughter as nobody will want them. We all have favorites in our herds and many families will be broken by this. So Morrisons, is why can the discounters such as Aldi and Lidl, whose stores are also full of British beef, pork and chicken, come to the table and agree to pay farmgate price for their milk, as have Nisa, but Morrisons will not?
***************************************************************************************************** **SPECTACULAR** that is what we saw last night at Morrisons, Bridgwater in Somerset. For everyone who took part and got there so quickly ,as this call did not go out until yesterday lunchtime, a huge thanks to you all. To James Hole and his team, you did a great job under great pressure from the Police Officer in charge. North West you also did a great job at the Co-op up in St Helens and thanks to Tom and Mike once again for all the time and effort that went into this. To our customers, the general public, a happy August Bank Holiday, we will still keep producing top quality British produce for your plate 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Retailers all we want is a fair price, and for you ALL to stop discounting our produce, and finally food service sector we will be knocking on your door very shortly. We will keep you all updated as and when we can. ********************************************************************************************************
27/8/15 ASDA - LAMB FOLLOWING LAST WEEKS MEETING Following our meeting with Asda last week, they will be promoting all British lamb in 9 North Wales stores in September. Farmers support will be most welcome as this promotion moves to South Wales in Oct and Nov and it includes promotion of all out of balance cuts which starts this weekend. All lamb burgers and mince will be 100% British (there will be no NZ/UK lamb packs anymore) . They are launching a new British loin product in Sept and are carrying out a Walk The Chain event for the farmers who were at the meeting last week. That is being arranged for Dunbia Preston and the Asda website has been changed and all issues surrounding NZ lamb have been removed.
NISA Good news just in, Nisa have now agreed to pay farmgate price. So well done to everyone involved in the Nisa protest, and many thanks to Nisa for taking the initiative and appreciating that UK dairy producers need a dramatic price increase to sustain their businesses
21/8/15 LAST NIGHTS PROTEST IN YORKSHIRE AT NISA Well done to all those involved a very successful evening, meetings will now be arranged with Nisa management on milk price issues and also to try and persuade them driving our wonderful products to the bottom is not going to be accepted by British dairy farmers any longer.
SHEEP MEETING WITH ASDA IN NORTH WALES Again this meeting was attended by FFA and local producers of lamb from the area who met with Asda and its supplying Abattoir This was a very robust meeting where everyone had the opportunity to air their views and we discussed a number of initiatives, the first one is to find a way very quickly of getting money into the sheep sector then we looked at a number of suggestions to try and get medium to long term stability within the UK sheep market. A deadline has been set for Wed of next week when we will reconvene with Asda to hear what conclusion they have arrived at and what they can do to help struggling sheep industry. To everybody involved in the process of driving prices up keep up the action again praise to new initiatives that the young farmers have come up including the milk challenge You are all doing us proud, your conduct is impeccable and enthusiasm is infectious. Further protests are e going to be required within the food service sector and other retailers, if you have any ideas please share so that we can make sure they are directed at the right people and not those who are already in negotiation . To help with this process here is a list of those who are currently in talks:- Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Nisa, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland The only one in the food service sector is Brakes so we still have plenty to go at and over the next week will try and point everybody in the right direction. Meetings are being arranged with milk processors to ensure that all monies being paid get to milk producers in full. Beware any processor that doesn't want to come to the party I am sure several thousand farmers will be very quickly on your doorstep. Congratulations to Arlaa who in a week when many other milk processors have dropped the price again, have held their milk price and are very bullish about the market going forward both here and in Europe. I am sure other processors will get the same praise as Arla once we start to see them passing money back to hard hit dairy businesses. To that end I would say to all of them you need to be in with all of your customers now demanding a minimum farm gate price of 28ppl so that this industry stands a chance of surviving the oncoming winter period when remember your factories still need the milk. No excuses, no global excuses just get out there and get the money out of the supply chain and back to the people who need it. Finally, congratulations to FFA South West contractor members , Bartletts from Dorset who have made the final in Farmers Weekly 'Contractor of the Year' competition. Also to all the other contractors who support our protests not only in the South West but all over the country for without your contribution in bringing the tractors and machinery, plus the publicity that goes with it, our job would be very difficult indeed, we owe you a huge debt. This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure (Winston Churchill)
REPORT ON MEETING WITH TESCO - 19.8.2015 Those present David Handley, FFA - Michael Oakes, NFU A very, very positive meeting with Tesco. We shared a lot of views on what is happening currently within the industry and we have requested Tesco address four issues:- 1 Cheese that is bought from First Milk and South Caernarvon Creameries is bought at a minimum farm gate price of 28ppl 2 Continuing on from dialogue we held with their previous Agricultural Manager, that all milk sold in their One Stop Shops carries the red tractor logo. 3 Their cheese has to carry a single country of origin label not multi country origins 4 That their own brand yogurt is made with British milk (currently German) TESCO RESPONSE:- On their yogurt they gave us categorical assurance that by March 2016 all their own label yogurt will be made with British milk The reason for the slight delay is obviously contractual issues with their current supplier. They have agreed to go away to discuss all the other issues and we will reconvene the meeting on the 2nd Sept. To all supporters of the Working Group we would ask you to avoid protesting in any form at Tescos while these negotiations are continuing. David Handley is today meeting with ASDA at Denbigh with the North Wales Sheep farmers to try and resolve the issue going forward of New Zealand lamb and to try and find a formula that avoids this happening during next year's season.
17/8/15 Update on last night's action Firstly a massive thank you to everyone who turned out at last night's protest at Tesco and Farm Foods both at Avonmouth and Widnes. An even bigger thank you to all those people who travelled up to 3 hrs on tractors and who really drove home the dire situation this industry is in. Tesco protest lasted approx 3 hrs and at that point Tescos agreed a meeting with the Farmers For Action on Wednesday of this week. We will keep you posted on the outcome of the meeting as soon as we come out we will try and get a post up so all those who attended last night can hear the outcome. We then moved on from Tesco to Farm Foods DC. Farm Foods on Saturday had been visited by farmers in the Staffs/Derby area in the form a Trolley Challenge. I understand from the organiser reception by Farm Foods management was not very welcoming (surprise,surprise) even Farm Foods owner is not known for tact when it comes to dealing with British farmers, as we have experienced in the past. The protest at Farm Foods DC at Avonmouth lasted until 1 am when it was felt by all we had delivered a very strong message. The decision has been taken that if we have heard nothing from Farm Foods by the middle of the week, we will have no alternative but to return to this site and also visit sites in the Midlands, North West and possibly Scotland. We reiterate to all Farm Foods management, all you have to do is pick a telephone up, we would far rather sit down and have dialogue than resort to peaceful protest. So in the words of one of great leaders 'pull your finger out!'. Again to everyone who attended last night a very big thank you, your behaviour was exemplary as was your commitment and enthusiasm to seeing this campaign through to the end, but as was stated last night to all those who attended, this action is only one part of the jigsaw. We in the Working Group have to move at speed to find a mechanism that prevents the need for this kind of activity going forward and from Farmers For Action we give you that commitment that we will see it through until the end and hopefully the dairy farmers that are left in our industry will at least be getting a sustainable milk price going forward. Further protests are planned this week, our friends up North are looking at the food service sector, others are looking at retailers within the SW area, so just watch the web site, FB and Twitter and for members your e mail for further info on targets, again as said last night lets all work together make sure everyone knows what everybody else is doing and the targets selected are the right ones and not those already in talks with the Working Group.
16/8/15 LIDL price up to 28ppl on Monday
This weeks update at 15/8/15 This week has been a tough week for everyone with constant negotiations virtually every day by all those involved in the working group and also we have seen our Young Farmers again in action, and exemplary in the way they have carried out their activities, please keep it up but make sure that your target is not one who is on the list of those that are currently negotiating. If you have any doubts please get in touch with any of the parties in the working group, FFA, TFA, NFU (Wales,England,Scotland), RABDF Obviously there has been some success with Asda and Morrisons on liquid milk and a small initiative by Morrisons on cheese. There is a bigger picture with both these retailers and that is their milk going into cheese manufacture. Talks are continuing over the coming days to try and resolve this issue. Aldi again have increased farm gate milk price and again talks with respect to cheese is continuing, we understand we can expect an announcement from the other discounter, Lidl, sometime this coming week. There has been a lot of negative comments as to where the returns from these deals are going (ARLA) . I can assure everyone the working group are trying to drive prices for everyone that produces milk in the UK. To some it may seem slow but believe you me what we have achieved in the last few days should give you all confidence that in the days to come all dairy farmers in the UK will start to see a benefit from this hard work by the recognised organisations and our young farmers. Negative comments with regards ARLA or any other dairy producer group achieve nothing. We have to stand together, we have to forget the differences and focus totally on the job in hand and that is a sustainable milk price for every dairy farmer who continues to produce milk in this country. Sometimes there will be winners and losers but believe you me within FFA and others within the group the intention is to deliver to all. So again I say please everyone, drop out the negative comments and just get behind the campaign. Just one comment to those ARLA producers who are bitching over the fact that they have to share their money with 10k other European dairy farmers - you read the contract and you signed it, you knew what you were doing and remember the majority of you jumped on this bandwagon because you thought that the European milk price was going to be better than the UK price. Currently that may not be the case but I am sure when the market turns around none of you will be making negative comments when those 10,000 dairy producers' prices rise and you benefit from that. Do not share your issues on social media, if you are not happy then ring your ARLA representative and resign your contract. David Handley, Chairman, FFA
7/8/15 MORRISONS Following all the recent activity in the last 7 days, with Milk Trolley Challenges originated by young farmers, and protests held in Cheshire last week and again last night Cheshire (600 in attendance) and Bridgwater in Somerset (1,000 in attendance), Morrisons are to meet within industry leaders on Tuesday of next week to discuss the serious issue facing British dairy farmers. We would now please ask everyone to focus their attention on other retailers whilst talks with Morrisons take place. Well done last night to everybody, both young and old your support was fantastic, behaviour was exemplary and obviously a big thank you to all our other partners who have played a part in the last 7 days focusing on the plight faced in the British dairy industry. Not forgetting all the generous sponsors who have been so generous throughout this campaign. Young Farmers, your conduct and behaviour has been a tremendous advert for our industry and you and your families should be duly proud of you, as we all are here at FFA. Again big thanks from all the team at FFA and I am sure that would also go for NFU, TFA,RABDF and CLA. We will keep you posted with regards to the meeting with Morrisons or any other developments
STATEMENT FROM DAVID HANDLEY, FFA CHAIRMAN Current state of play Following a meeting with Morrisons on the milk crisis last week, we have had a reply back saying Morrisons are not prepared to negotiate anything whilst being targeted by farmers. I think a line has been drawn in the sand and am sure I speak on behalf of the majority of farmers when I say we are not going to be bullied by British retailers. All we want is a fair price, a living wage and be able to make a profit from our business, no different than any other corporate business, whether it be British retailing or British food service industry. For Morrisons to start saying that they are not going to be threatened into price increasing tells me they are not listening to the message. Their own customers, the great British public are telling them they are prepared to pay more to keep British farming profitable and going forward, Morrisons need to realise we are an island with 63m people, other than exotics we could be totally self sufficient but retailers and the food service sector seem to think that food is all about profit, for them and no one else. I believe we have now reached a point where the British farming industry has to stand up and be counted. We as farmers need to stand together like we have never done before, we need to forget any past differences and deliver the strongest message ever to those who purchase our products and to those who govern our industry and tell them we have had enough, we cannot continue this downward trend of pricing of our fantastic products whilst those who serve the public continue to bring it millions of miles around the world, affecting our wonderful environment and being of no benefit to the countries they trade in as they operate the same policies there in purchasing which is 'we want it cheaper', its got to stop. Our Prime Minister and Agricultural Minster need to get a grip of who is running this country, who is controlling British food output, is it the farmer and politicians or is it the likes of Morrisons?. In recent weeks I have continually said we can win this battle if we stand together and win this battle without using European tactics but I am afraid I have to say today maybe I have got this one wrong. If farmers will not stand together, what we are going to see happen is smaller groups breaking away, not through greed but through desperation and therefore French tactics are going to take place, whether we like it or we don't. So here is my plea, British farmers stand up and unite, this is not a war, all we are asking for is fair play, fair price, fair trade and a living wage. For our successful businesses to maintain profit for reinvestment , for efficiency and growth and above all to be able to feed a growing population from within our own shores and I would say to any doubter, to any individual that says 'this is absurd, we don't do it this way in Britain' you are letting down the next generation of farmers. Those young people who every night and day this week have been out peacefully protesting, exemplary in their behaviour trying to secure their future, we need to support them, back them and bring about a radical change in the way British farming is being treated by those greedy corporate both in retail and food service sector. David Handley
27/7/2015 Over the last three months a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes trying to find solutions to the current crisis our industry faces. This has involved all the farming organisations working together. It has proved to be very slow and very difficult but no one ever pretended that to find long term solutions to the industry's problems was going to be an easy one. Unfortunately a lot of this work has not been able to be shared with you our members due to sensitivity of the complexities involved in finding answers for both the short term and long term issues facing all sectors within the British farming industry. We had hoped that most people would have been patient but we understand the pressures that are put on business and family when income levels have fall to an all time low, and this has brought out some frustration amongst a minority of members. We at FFA understand some of the frustration that certain members and non members are feeling by not knowing what is going on. Therefore, that is why in the last three weeks we have had open meetings with our working partners at Market Drayton and at Bridgwater. We have plans for further open meetings in the North of England, the far South West and Wales to try and give as much information as is practical to let people know, not only where we are in this current negotiation but also to hear farmers' views and ideas of how we can progress forward.
FRENCH DIRECT ACTION Currently, there is a lot of media coverage of the situation faced in France and the reaction of French farmers such as blocking motorways, spreading slurry, burning tyres on motorways, loosing livestock in supermarkets and sadly high jacking a number of Scottish owned lorries. We understand in difficult times people are driven to extreme measures but do we as the British farming industry really want to go to this level. So let us look at what the French have so far achieved by this drastic action. 1 The French government has caved in and given what? tax breaks (something that our NFU has already achieved with negotiation with the British government) 2 The French government have provided finance to allow farmers to restructure farmers' debts with their banks (do we really want to go down this road). A debt is a debt that has to be paid back in the end, prolonging the pain does nothing (what we need is money for our products that enables us to stand on our own feet and pay our own debts) 3 The French government has put pressure on French retailers to pay more money for dairy products, not to the farmer but to the dairy processor. First question a) Will that money in total get back to the primary producer, I very much doubt and b) all they have done is given a four month break as this agreement so far is planned no further than the end of the year. So this is all the slurry spreading, road blocking, burning on highways and high jackings has achieved for our French counterparts. It may make you feel better but it does not put a penny in your bank account.
COALITION (FFA,NFU,TFA) What we in the coalition are trying to achieve is money directly into your banks through better returns for the products you produce. Nobody is promising a silver bullet, this is slow and painful for all of us. Remember all the FFA team who have committed the last 15 years to working for our industry are your fellow farmers doing the best they can. We are leaving no stone unturned and are currently working on a number of ideas to extract money from retailers and the food service sector whilst also pressurising our government to also act. To that end we have said when the summer parliamentary recess is ended if we see no sign of response from our politicians we will take farming to the capital and to other major cities around the country. That is one of the ways that you all, our members, will be able to come out and show solitary. RETAILERS & FOOD SERVICE INDUSTRY Next, retailers and food service industry have to be made to realise if they want to stack it high and sell it cheap it all comes out of their profits not our pockets. Their job first of all is to pay the true cost of production to every single farmer in the land. To remain loyal in the first instance to British produce, milk, lamb, beef, pork, chicken & eggs, fruit and vegetables before they even consider imports into the UK purely and simply for their profit not to the benefit of consumers. To that end again the coalition is trying to bring around this mindset within this sector but again, very shortly we will be expecting to call you to assist us in this goal with communication with the consumer, explaining exactly what producing great British produce entails and I am afraid to say also to jump on your tractor and support peaceful protest aimed at those who refuse to negotiate and make sure that every single farming family in this land can make a profit. They have a corporate responsibility to do this. We are an island and there have been times in history when food has been short, increasing imports only increases the risk to food security. We hope this helps everyone understand where we stand at this moment in time and we at FFA fully accept that perhaps we have not kept our members as fully informed as we should have. To that end we will improve on this very quickly so you all know the progress that is being made.
FFA FACEBOOK GROUP FFA as you know has both a facebook group and twitter page. This was set up as a request by our members as a forum so that people could openly share their views and sometimes their criticisms. We have no problem with that whatsoever, constructive criticism and ideas are welcome but we have been forced into some drastic action, especially with regard to our Facebook page, which remember not only is read by adults but by children and consumers as well and when we see posts using foul language, intimidation and in some cases trying to rouse people to do things that are unlawful, we felt we had to act. To those people who have been removed or blocked, in their eyes unfairly, if you care to contact us we will rectify and reinstate you onto the facebook page. Amongst those are a very small minority and I mean very small, to which I have his to say. As Chairman of Farmers For Action my telephone number is freely available, if you have something to say with regards to me or any of the team at FFA please free to ring, if you don't get me leave a message and I will come back to you. As I have stated previously I know things are difficult for everybody and I fully understand the frustrations and anger and remember there is not one person on the team at FFA who in the past has not risked being arrested for the sake of British agriculture, but this achieves nothing. However as individuals if you are hell bent on bringing this industry into disrepute and you think the general public don't remember, well carry on. So to reiterate what has already been posted on our website and here on facebook, you can see what we are trying to do and will be called upon but it will be in a controlled manner where we work with the Police and everyone else involved to finally get long term solutions that last and if we can achieve that with the backing of 63m consumers and the support of politicians that surely is a better way than setting fires, spreading slurry, high jacking lorries and causing inconvenience. We at FFA we are not trying to be dictatorial it is purely the fact that our FB group and Twitter page are there for everyone to read and every post that is read by individual people is absorbed so lets make sure that they see we are professional individuals that care passionately about our industry and only want what every other person in the country wants, a liveable wage to enable us to maintain producing fantastic British food, support our families and invest in the future. Our produce sustains life so please, please lets not fall out. I have said today we have made mistakes. I am sure others, if they reflect, probably have as well but lets put that behind us, show total solidarity and lets get an industry back on its feet for the benefit of everyone, and remember it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. David Handley Chairman Farmers For Action