David Handley's Brexit article Farmers Guardian 4/1/2019
David Handley's Brexit article Farmers Guardian 4/1/2019
RISING FUEL PRICES
A meeting took place last night, 22 October 2018, with a number of the original members of the 2000 Fuel Protest.The reason behind the meeting being to discuss rapidly rising fuel prices and the disparity between crude oil and pump prices with some of the better known oil companies having forecourts literally 3 miles apart and differing prices between them.The issue of motorway service fuel prices were also discussed and the massive effect that this is having on the agricultural and haulage industries. Whilst Government have again kept fuel duty frozen, a number of people at the meeting felt they could be doing more in terms of controlling and investigating the current situation between the major oil companies.
A great deal was discussed around protest, some felt it could achieve highlighting the problem so certain aspects are going to be investigated over the coming days and a further meeting will take place in about a week.
David Handley, Chairman of Farmers For Action said fuel was now becoming a major problem not only for the ordinary motorist but starting to affect the cost of goods that hauliers have to move around the country and he certainly did not rule out some sort of Protest maybe needed to alert government to the current serious situation faced by all.
THE DAIRY SHOW, BATH & WEST SHOWGROUND 4 OCTOBER 2017
Our own David Handley will again be sharing his views at Speakers Corner on The Dairy Farmer stand from 11 am.
Speakers will be giving their thoughts on future of milk production in next few years such as volatility, fixed contracts,
slow delivery of improved prices, structure of industry needed to better face times ahead, improved efficiency,
countering opposition to dairy, industry indebtedness etc. and of course Brexit.
6/9/2017 Jim Moseley's (CEO Red Tractor), response in today’s Western Daily Press to David Handley’s FFA recent comment on Red Tractor Assurance.
Apologies for quality but no link available.
FARMING SEPTEMBER 2 DAVID HANDLEY COLUMN
I’ve just had a glossy, 50-page, lavishly-produced booklet through the post, courtesy of Red Tractor Assurance.
When I have nothing better to do I will sit down and read it - though at first glance I can’t see a time coming within the next 20 years when there won’t be better things to do. Like polishing the number plate on the tractor, or checking the cat for fleas.
I was sent it because I am, apparently, a member of the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme though frankly, for all the good that that has done me I might as well be a member of my local WI. At least I could have learned flower arranging.
Anyway, its purpose apparently, is to inform me that every three years a team of farmers, retailers, vets and other industry “experts” (my quotation marks, not theirs) meets to review farm standards and ensure they come up to what the consumers want and expect.
All very commendable. Even though, as the covering letter goes on to explain, the newly-revised standards are going to require some people to change the way they run their farms.
I’m sure that won’t be a problem. Farmers, after all have plenty of time on their hands these days.And they are always ready to welcome with overflowing enthusiasm suggestion from non-farmers, such as vets, retailers and the all-important consultants (most of who based on personal experience, I wouldn’t consult about the time of day) on how to run their businesses more efficiently, more profitably and with all due attention paid to welfare.
Quite what the reaction would be if I marched into my local branch of Tesco, told the manager he was doing it all wrong and produced my own detailed plan for running his store I’m not sure. Any more than I can say how my vet would react if I wrote to him and told him he needed to run his business in line with customer expectations so here was a list of improvements.
As to the suggestions for reinforcing the assurance criteria I am confused. Advice to the effect that silage must be stored so as not to cause pollution and that a permanent supply of clean water should be provided via clean troughs would seem utterly superfluous.
But I am now told I have to carry out risk assessments of watercourses and non-target species before putting down rat bait. I should have a map of the farm showing where all the buildings are – presumably in case I forget. And I must neither tether my cattle all year round nor use anything but non-abrasive material for halters. Well if I did tether them all year round I wouldn’t be able to get them into the parlour. And what do they think I use for halters – barbed wire?
When the Red Tractor scheme was launched and we were all invited along we listened to the then Prime Minister telling us what a wonderful thing it would be and what fantastic benefits we would draw from it once we signed up to and abided by the assurance rules.
Twenty years down the line I’m still waiting. Large sections of the public still don’t know what the Red Tractor means – or if they do that it can be applied to imported food if produced to British standards - and as a marketing tool it is about as effective as sticking the smiley face of Count Dracula on a packet of black pudding.
Meanwhile after 20 years of doing damn-all Red Tractor Assurance has become yet another quango occupied by the “experts” who know less about farming than the people they are dictating their wonderful standards to.
I have a message for its new chief executive, Jim Moseley. Welcome to the gravy train. First class accommodation is at the front.
FARMING AUGUST 12 DAVID HANDLEY COLUMN
Everywhere I go the talk seems to centre on the same subject: subsidies.
Every farmer I meet seems to be asking the same questions: are we going to get the same levels of subsidy support once we are standing on our own outside the EU tent? Should we really have voted to leave? Aren’t we going to be reduced to the level of poor relations while our competitors on the mainland continue to enjoy generous taxpayer support?
I suggest farmers extend the scope of their reading beyond the columns of market prices or the reviews of the latest shiny tractors and look at what is happening in Europe where negotiations are taking place as to what level of farm support there should be within the community from 2020 onwards.
And the message already coming out is that whatever aid there is for agriculture it will be nothing like the present level because there isn’t going to be enough money in the budget. Continental farmers are going to have to be weaned off the kind of support which has seen 100 billion euros shovelled into the pockets of French farmers alone in the last decade.
Consumers who have been the beneficiaries of supermarket price wars are going to be presented with the reality: food prices have been kept artificially low but only at the expense of farmers being kept on starvation incomes and the failure of hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses in the food chain, unable to draw enough profit from their activities to survive.
Which, of course, is precisely what has been happening here. Fortunately for us we shall be able to do something about it without first having to reach an agreement with more than two dozen other countries. We shall be able to act independently, decisively and without any of the lengthy horse-trading that accompanies any such reforms in Europe as politicians attempt to protect so many national interests.
But reform there will have to be. We need to reshape British agriculture so that farmers get off the tractor seat and start properly marketing what they produce.
Now when I, or other people like Richard Haddock, suggest such a thing we are branded as radicals babbling about a dream world that is never going to become a reality. What I say is this: it is going to happen sooner or later because sooner or later taxpayers are going to revolt against the notion of farmers existing on hand-outs when every other business sector in the country stands on its own two feet.
That dream world could become a reality within the space of five years so we might as well start making the first moves now while we still have a chance to influence the way it will look, instead of having the politicians’ preferred model imposed on us.
We have to break the current mould where UK food policy is run by a cabal of supermarkets and the majority of our milk industry controlled by overseas-based processors. We have to start co-operating and effectively marketing our fantastic food and drink through shortened and more profitable food chains.
We shouldn’t wait for anyone else to do it. The NFU hasn’t the first clue about marketing; Government agencies are bloated and useless. Farmers have to organise, to come together to take collective control of strategic chunks of the market so they can one again be price makers rather than price takers – to quote the much-missed Derek Mead.
Had we done this 20 years ago we wouldn’t need to rely on subsidies by now: the money could be put into the holiday fund instead.
And we need to revolutionise British farming for another very good reason: to attract the next generation into the industry. Because as things stand offering a young person the chance to give up a well-paid job in an office or a factory and come back and take over the family farm so they can spend 20 years losing money like their father before them doesn’t look like a particularly good deal.
FARMING AUGUST 5 DAVID HANDLEY COLUMN
I’ve been up in the north this week trying to bring some sort of cohesion to the campaign to eradicate TB. My only conclusion on reaching home again was that I might as well not have bothered.
Not only did the sessions I have with farmers up there fail to agree on a consensual approach, the opinions and attitudes I experienced made me even more doubtful that we are going to get to grips any time soon with the worst animal health epidemic we have had in this country for decades.
From my observations it seems no MP is prepared to stand up and demand swifter and more comprehensive action to eradicate diseased badgers because they are all fearful of the backlash that will generate from the pro-badger section of the population.
About a third of the rest of the country’s farmers want to rely on vaccination even though that is a complete hit-and-miss approach (generally with more miss than hit); a third are happy to sit back and let the Government get on with shooting everything in sight claiming - with the NFU – that it’s the only option; and another third wants to start coming at the problem from another direction by targeting only diseased setts and gassing their occupants.
Meanwhile the Scots appear to be totally in denial about having TB at all, even though they clearly have.
I went up there hoping that in the face of a still-growing menace from bovine TB farmers could for once sit down and formulate a policy which would take a rather more intelligent approach than mass slaughtering – a method which is by no means guaranteed to remove every diseased animal though is pretty well guaranteed to perturb local populations leading to diseased badgers moving into previously clean zones.
Unfortunately all I got were several hours of claim, counter-claim, argument, counter-argument and a generally chaotic exchange of views. The only agreement achieved was one to carry on disagreeing.
This, of course, will all be music to the ears of the badger groups who, while one can diametrically disagree with their views, have at least held together a united front as far as policy and campaigning goes.
They have definitely still got the upper hand in the propaganda war, too, mainly because there is so little opposition.
The Government has never properly explained to the public why badger numbers have to be reduced – and there is no doubt the initiative has to come from the Government rather than the NFU which most people apart from farmers have never heard of, so low has its profile become.
No wonder, with the constant drip of half-truths and downright untruths from the badger-lovers, a large majority of the public show more sympathy for badgers than they do for farmers.
And the longer disagreement reigns within the farming community the more that trend will gather pace – and the more TB will outrun the current piecemeal attempts to eradicate it.
Our deepest condolences to the farmily of Somerset farmer and business man, Derek Mead, 72, who tragically died in a farm accident over the weekend. He was well known in the SW for his property development portfolio including the state of the art Sedgemoor Livestock Market complex and Puxton Farm Park. A man who spoke his mind on the state of the U.K. Farming industry and never shied away from his direct and sometimes controversial views.
Family pays tribute following terrible loss of grandfather, North Somerset councillor and businessman
What a great success last night at our Charity Auction in Whitchurch Rugby Club. We will be presenting a cheque for £1000 to Midlands Air Ambulance in the near future . Our thanks must go to everybody who donated to the auction and raffle. Also of course to organisers Tom Houghton and family and Kate Morgan and family who did a tremendous job, The Morgan family for supplying the 2 pigs for the hog roast and auctioneers Stuart Hassell & Simon Lamb for doing such a great professional job. And finally for all who bought tickets and bid so generously in the auction. THANK YOU ALL FROM THE TEAM AT FFA
If anyone would like to organise a similar event in your area, please do get in touch, I am sure we have or know someone who has been helped by Air Ambulance and never know when we might need this service ourselves.
FFA chairman, David Handley dares a milk processor to cut the price!
Dairy farmers are currently on a knife edge whether large or small.Commentators are trying to talk the price down, Yes, markets have eased, yes there is a problem with powder in store in Europe (caused by politicians).Those working in the health sector are all shouting about the benefits to the diet of dairy products.All that
needs to happen is for this Government and the Grocery Code Adjudicator to grab hold of the dairy supply chain and rattle it so hard that the pennies at the top fall to where they belong, at the bottom.
Therefore FFA’s challenge to the retailers and processors is – sort it or very shortly we are going to be sorting you!.Your choice!!
As for government, we came to London last March, if this is not addressed and price cuts do arise, believe you me, we will be back with many thousands more angry and desperate farmers.
We are delighted to announce that the following companieswill be continuing their generous sponsorship of FFA through 2017.
CREDITON MILLING CO based in Crediton, Devon.
www.creditonmilling.co.uk Their team of animal feed specialists advise on cattle, sheep and poultry feed, manufactured and distributed throughout Devon and the west country.
Their specially developed range of bagged animal feeds,
available throughout the UK,
are nutritionally balanced to provide all of the animal nutrition benefits
necessary to keep your stock healthy and productive
HARPERS FEEDS based in Holsworthy Devon http://www.hhmix.co.uk/
Manufacturers of high quality agricultural animal feeds.
Harpers was established in 1992 and continues to manufacture feed for farmers throughout the South West.
Producers of quality rations for dairy, cattle, sheep, horse, pig, poultry and game plus specialist feeds from guinea pigs through to rhinoceros.
Waitrose rebrand their NZ ready meals to Classic instead of British
Well done everybody, it took your perseverance posting on their FB page to
get this changed. You can make a difference. You will also see in this article
NFU claimed to have raised this issue 12 months ago. what they don't tell you
is that 12 months ago FFA chairman asked NFU’s livestock chairman to help do
something about NZ lamb, he declined saying now is not the right time!
So once again well done FFA.
MEETINGS WITH SECRETARY OF STATE AND AGRICULTURAL MINISTER
Following our meeting with the Agricultural Minister in December, where Mr Eustice was certainly very positive about our future going forward post Brexit,I strongly believe that the farming industry and all its representative bodies should get behind the government on this issue.In that meeting we tried to focus on the next generation of entrepreneurial young farmers and no doubt as the year progresses this will become an even bigger focus for FFA .But to achieve success for the next generation we have to find a dignified way to allow the current generation to exit the industry with a secure future.To this end both government with taxation breaks etc., and forward thinking landlords, can play a big part.
On Tuesday 7 February 2017 we met with the Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom and also again with George Eustice.This I think was one of the most positive meetings for our industry that I have attended for some time. I was very impressed with the Secretary of State's views on the run up to Brexit and feel strongly this lady has a real grip on the state of our industry and has some very positive ideas for the future.
As you all know Tuesday was a very difficult day at the House of Commons with a lot of voting taking place on Amendments to Brexit.Therefore this forced the Secretary of State to have to leave our meeting slightly earlier than planned but the Minister, George Eustice stayed on and again we had a lot of positive dialogue about the future of farming in this country.Again a lot of time was spent on the issue of our current generation and where the farmers of the future are going to come from.
To all those who sent in questions to be asked at this meeting, we tried to get as many points across as possible and most of them were answered, I believe in total honesty, nobody pretending going forward was going to be easy but there certainly was a strong commitment to make sure all your questions were on the agenda going forward in relation to our industry.
We will be meeting with both Defra and the Minister on a regular basis going forward in 2017.
It really disturbs me as Chairman of FFA of the total negativity being thrown around by some Remainers who hold political office and also some who say they represent our industry and I do question their motives.Surely Brexit can only be positive for our industry but we have to make it work.Free trade negotiation is not going to be easy, but then neither is the place we find ourselves in at the moment and I do wish people would stop talking about 'support payments' and start talking about how we develop trade with many other countries around the world.
On the sheep industry, again by a Remainer within the Welsh government I am very angry with the comments that the sheep industry especially, in Wales is going to bedoomed post Brexit and blaming New Zealand as being the major problem.These people need to get their facts correct.Having worked in the meat industry for many years the markets that we have consistently tried to get into, USA being one of the biggest, has been curtailed by the EU.Now we have freedom to go forward and develop those markets, they are massive, some we can do on our own, some we will need to operate with our partners who produce food around the world but as long as that delivers sustainable prices for our producers that is all that matters.
The people who hold office need to remember their salaries are paid for by our taxes and they need to start remembering that in our great democratic country, the Brexit vote was unanimous and their job is to secure the best deal possible going forward or maybe at the next election, they will be getting a P45.
DAIRY POST BREXIT
Again, I do believe there are fantastic opportunities for British Dairy farmers but we will have to adapt and will have to change.There are a lot of young people currently breaking through into the dairy industry and in my travels around the country I find them inspirational.At our meeting recently with the Minister we have put forward a number of ideas for him and the Defra team to consider on how we can make sure our young entrepreneurial dairy farmers have a secure foundation going forward.Again all I hear from the over 50's in my travels is this dreaded phrase 'we need support payment'When will people realise no other business in the world gets subsidised as heavily as agriculture.I am not in any way saying that that is unnecessary but for us to go forward and prosper post Brexit, we have to change the way we operate and we have to become businessmen.For those who are prepared to do that I believe there is a great future.I think if we hang our hat around the word 'support' we are doomed to lose our markets to other countries who totally focus on progress and developing further market requirement.
In this sector there are one or two of us who have been promoting the issue of farmers working more closely together.It is an uphill struggle and I do not understand that if we are to benefit financially, why then are we all not prepared to work together. Maybe there is a reason for this when quite recently on social media, the NFU stated the postivity of partnerships and producer organisations, yet this organisation on Brexit and many other issues, are not prepared to work with other representative bodies which has lead to a number of organisations working on their own whereas I firmly believe if every single organisation worked under one umbrella on this very serious issue of Brexit, the opportunities for British farming would be significant and 'Food From Britain' would truly be stamped on the global market. If this were to happen, surely then our farmer members would see the benefits of working together but why should they if their representative bodies cannot join forces. This only plays into the hands of both government and our global competitors and remember the saying 'together we stand, divided we fall' and we owe it to the next generation and those following in their footsteps to secure our industry firmly on the global stage.
Finally,I hope that 2017 is going to be a more prosperous year for all sectors but remember you only get rewards when you engage with the markets.One certain assurance is that FFA will continue to lobby on behalf of its members.
Farmers For Action
FFA are actively seeking sponsorship for 2017 If you feel that you can help in any way please click here
NORTHERN IRELAND DAIRY FARMERS VOTE OVERWHELMINGLY FOR A MILK STRIKE
At a meeting on Monday, under the heading of NI Farm Groups, organised by NI FFA co-ordinator, William Taylor 250 dairy farmers from across NI and beyond converged on the central location of Cookstown for a momentous meeting.
Represented at the top table under the heading of Northern Ireland Farm Groups were Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association Chairman Michael Clarke, Fair Price NI spokesperson Charlie Weir, Holstein UK NI representative John Martin and Farmers For Action NI co-ordinator William Taylor.
Votes were taken as follows:-
Compere Robert Irwin, editor of Northern Ireland’s Farm Week, judged the mood of the meeting to ask the panel could an initial vote ask the question to the audience, ‘How many dairy farmers see themselves producing milk in two years time, if things continue as they are?’3 people out of the 250 audience put their hand up that they would still be producing milk.
The next vote was unique to Northern Ireland and requested how many people favour three weeks advance notice of the milk price to be paid for the next months’ milk, as is the case in GB?This vote was unanimous!
The final Strike vote was taken after much debate and questions and concerns people had for and against.The message from the panel was clear, the strike vote was to give the members of Northern Ireland Farm Groups on this serious milk issue a valuable tool in the tool box to meet the co-op processors purchasing milk in Northern Ireland forthwith and make it clear to them that we have a mandate to strike before Christmas, if they refuse to deliver a market related fair milk price immediately.That Strike vote was unexpectedly unanimous with the exception of three hands – the panel were amazed at the strength of feeling which was explained after the meeting very well by one middle aged plus farmer and a young farmer, to quote them, “young and old we are absolutely fed up to the back teeth with this situation!”
In a statement released by Northern Ireland Farm Groups since the meeting, they are appealing for the Ulster Farmers Union to join them in a united front
David Handley interview with John Gaunt of Talk2Me Radio regarding latest EU Subsidy story
Last week we gave an opportunity for our members to put forward their questions to the retailers and food service sector with whom FFA had scheduled meetings.
The response from the membership was tremendous with a number of very interesting questions.Therefore, David Handley from FFA met with two retailers over 2 days last week and was able to put a number of those questions forward and which gave the people concerned a lot to ponder on regarding the issues that FFA membership had raised.
One of the main topics raised with retailers was the issue of non aligned milk producers, those who are always being dragged along at the bottom of the dairy supply chain.FFA has for some time, working together with their commercial partner, been looking into this issue and we feel there is a solution in the form of a modern day milk marketing board.This could be achieved with willingness throughout the industry by using the tools that both the EU and DEFRA have given us.This is in the form of Producer Organisations, small, medium,large and speciality milk producers being brought together under one marketing umbrella.This raised a number of questions from last week's meetings and further meetings with other retailers and those in the dairy supply chain are planned over the coming weeks.
FFA believe with Brexit together with all that is currently happening in the global dairy industry, the next generation of dairy farmers have a tremendous amount to look forward to.It is up to us, the industry representation, to push innovation to the forefront, especially for those who are not aligned to supplying milk to a major retailer, in fact FFA believe it is our duty to find a way to bring these people into a position where they also can be profitable in the dairy supply chain.At FFA we have certainly found that working with a commercial partner over recent months, there are exciting prospects to be developed in the British Dairy Industry, such as futures marketing (an industry insurance policy), more ways to utilise British milk to find more funding for promotion and above all brands, the main one of these must be British Milk and how we tell the story to consumers.We will obviously keep our members posted how all of this is progressing in the coming weeks and update them on the reaction from our customers going forward.
FFA chairman, David Handley, will be speaking at the SW Dairy event at Shepton Mallet on 5 October.Members please come along and show your support, we look forward especially to meeting the next generation of dairy farmers.
Over the last couple of weeks, British retailers have announced major price cuts in their basic product.It is our intention in the next week to have discussions with them to make it perfectly clear we will not tolerate this money coming out of processors' or farmers’ pockets.We certainly intend to speak to the big 4, discounters and food service sector to deliver this message in very strong terms.
We continue to see very slow progress in milk price increases, despite market returns continuing to rise.Some commentators have stated we should not expect processors to increase price as fast as the market due to trade deals they have agreed previously.FFA view this as being their problem not ours.Farmers should receive market returns as fast as they rise, after all they manage to pass on the downward price very quickly!
We will continue to put pressure on all those involved in the supply chain.
AUTUMN/WINTER MEETING SCHEDULE
We are in the process of compiling our diary of regional meetings for the next three months, primarily to guage support from members and non members.If you would like a meeting in your area, please contact the office (01291 690224, e mail email@example.com) and we can add this to our diary.
We feel that it is important for farmers to have the opportunity to speak to those who represent their industry and make sure that their views are delivered to those relevent bodies.
These meetings will also give farmers the opportunity to openly discuss the issue surrounding Brexit.As some of you may already know FFA have been in favour of leaving the European Union from day one.Our views have not changed.This is the biggest challenge and opportunity that UK farmers have had in a very long time and it is our chance to grab it, build on the great agricultural heritage we have in this country and secure a sustainable, profitable industry for those who follow in our footsteps.
RETAILERS - UPDATE
Over the past weeks and most recently, Thursday and Friday of last week, (in between trying to catch 1st cut silage, like many others) we have visited and held discussions with many of the UK's leading retailers on the ongoing issues of low prices in all sectors.Some of these have been fairly positive of which I will list below, some still require further work.
Firstly, Morrisons - who are currently in our view doing some tremendous work that should bring more money to hard-pressed farmers.They have transferred large tonnages of cheese to become solely British, they are doing more promotional work on butter and cream, very similar to what they did with liquid milk and they do need commending in our view for this new direction.We have raised with them the issues regarding imported lamb and have made it perfectly clear we will not sit back whilst they follow a route similar to other retailers and increase that product.Dialogue will continue on a regular basis with this company and hopefully more good news for farm gate prices will arise out of these discussions.
We now move on to Iceland, again who we have been in discussions with over recent weeks and it was good to hear from them only last week that 7,000 tons of their cheese is going to be all British.They have also raised the price of liquid milk in line with other moves in the retail sector.They continue to do other good things in terms of both red and white meat products and certainly we hope this will continue and grow.This company continues to be very open in dialogue with FFA.Their Retail Development, we believe is something to behold, it certainly shows innovation bringing new products to the British consumer and I am assured from my recent conversations that they want as much of these ingredients as possible to come from British farmers.We have to make sure that it delivers a sustainable price to those producers.
Finally, Asda who continue to make inroads, certainly in dairy with their supplier farmer owned Arla, that has to be good news for all producers. Yes some of the monies returned finds itself back into Europe but we have to remember that it is two way traffic and greater values in Europe find their way back to British dairy farmer members.We will continue to push Asda on NZ lamb as we will all other retailers, this has to decrease which will then allow young farmers in Britain to benefit going forward.
We have further planned meetings with retailers and processors going forward on dairy, we continue to talk to processors every day.There are small indications that milk is starting to get tight in supply and we are seeing that processors are reacting with small increases being announced.This next comment is not going to make us very popular but this is not a green light for producers to start pumping out milk, you should now all see that control of supply both UK and globally, is the only way we are going to retain 1) sustainable prices and 2) less volatility.The choice is in dairy farmers' hands.We continue to put pressure on all those in the dairy supply chain that prices are a long way from where they need to be for this industry at farm gate level to survive and prosper, and that will be our message to all in the chain going forward.
Obviously by now the momentous events of the 23rd have already sunk in with everybody.
FFA have always been in favour of leaving the EU, but we have refrained from trying to influence our members either way in this debate as we felt it was up to the individual to make their own choice, although our Chairman http://www.davidhandley.info has personally been quite vocal on his own view that the UK in the medium to long term will be better out of the current EU, which has become a political union not the union we signed up toin 1975 which was all about trade.We are now in a new place and FFA will fight to make sure that British farmers can succeed in the new environment we will be facing and we will continue as always to make sure those who are our trading partners pay a sustainable price for our products.We are already seeing some food products start to rise in price, and must ensure that all these increases get shared fairly down the supply chain.
We think it is far too early to be commenting on the future government which will be in place to administer to the needs of the British farming industry.We have to give people time to plan and get this transition out of Europe to go as smoothly aspossible, for not only farming but the whole population.If they get this right we believe our young people will have a fantastic, dynamic future as food producers in the UK, and we will lobby all political parties to ensure that they get this right the first time, there are no re-runs.
Of course there will be winners and losers in whatever new world we are entering into and we strongly believe at FFA that it is our role to make sure that the winners go forward and prosper but we also have an obligation to be there to assist those who may not benefit in this brave new world we are entering into.This nation has always grown and survived on trade and we will continue, we believe, to do so following the EU exit, in fact there is every indication demand for our food will grow at a faster rate once the shackles of the EU are finally released.
We have refrained from getting involved in the issue of immigration but think a few words need to be said on FFA's stance.We have a number of members who rely on a European workforce at seasonal times to both plant and harvest crops. In the new world we see no reason whatsoever why that should change.Most of the people who come across from Europe and the rest of the world are hardworking and reliable.All these issues will, we are sure, be negotiated in our exit of the EU and to those in our industry who are trying to scaremonger that this labour will not be available should be ashamed of themselves.
We trust all the above will show our members the position we stand on in the EU exit.We will continue to lobby hard for our industry in this new environment and will keep you fully informed as the days and weeks progress as to where we see the situation going forward.If you have any queries or questions on the above issues please do not hesitate to send an e mail firstname.lastname@example.org, pick up the phone or if you would like to arrange an open meeting on any of the subjects mentioned, we will be happy to come along and share our views.
Our world on the whole is a wonderful place, it has a growing population, all who need food, and we as British farmers will now be in a unique position to rise to the challenge and prosper. Our job as lobbyists, is to make sure you get a sustainable price.
Firstly I would like to ask all who view this for their comments please.
Farm gate milk price for some currently milk 12.5ppl
Question - who is making the profit, does this industry need investigating and above all why aren't there thousands of us on the streets?
All answers will be treated in total email@example.com
Following recent protest at B & M we have now been in contact with the owners who have been very open with us, dialogue is continuing but certainly at this moment in time they are very willing to purchase more British product especially on milk.We plan further discussions and meetings in the coming weeks to develop this further (every little helps!)
Next week we plan further protests and would therefore be looking for as much support as possible.I know these are difficult times but unless we stand up and make a noise I am afraid we are going to be walked all over as some of us already are.Keep watching for details.
Those of you who are members make sure your current details are up to date with the office so that you get the current information.
We continue to lobby on the issue of imported lamb being sole at most major retailers in vast quantities at discounted prices.We want to do more on this and we definitely need to be at someone's gates but I am afraid we are getting very little support from sheep farmers and this is your industry.
We are currently being told by a major red meat processor that most retailers have stocks of NZ going well into July, so think on and if you wish FFA to take action, please let us know, we are prepared to do something but we need the people who produce this wonderful British product to let us know what they want to do, either stand up for themselves or leave things stand?
Those of you who are not members, we would urge you to join as without our membership, we cannot continue to lobby effectively on all the issues that affect our industry. Membership is £50 pa, that is just 96p per week to be part of an organisation that dares to go where others would not dip their toe!
Go to http://farmersforaction.org/join-renew-ffa-members... give us a ring on 01291 690224/07710 640567 where you can join up.
We still have Hoodies, Gilets, Baseball caps and stickers available at
http://farmersforaction.org/merchandise or again you can order by ringing 01291 690224/07710640567
David Handley Chairman FFA
Further to post below, we have today received in the post the following letter from Liz Truss Secretary of State EFRA
As Mr Cameron has not responded to our letter handed in after our march on 23 Mrch 2016, perhaps he should take note of our simple online poll regarding remaining in the EU which was opened on 19/4/2016
LATEST FFA EU POLL at 10.30 am today
OUT 456 votes
REMAIN 74 votes
FOR ATTN OF NORTH WEST/MIDLANDS
There will be a protest against imported milk
on Tuesday 19 April 2016
Meet at Salt Cellar Pub, Middlewich, Cheshire CW10 0JZ at 7.45pm
Please ring Tom Houghton 07540704887 or Rob Morgan 07870139901
for further details
On 26 January 2016 we asked for your support in London on 23 March 2016, just 2 months later, look what we all achieved,suggested reports of between 2500/3000 people marching for their industry on the streets of London.
Therefore, the clock has been rewound and is now counting down to a new date for your diary in London, WEDNESDADY 22 JUNE 2016, day before the EU Referendum.
A comprehensive report of yesterday's events will be posted as soon as possible.
Cheshire Agricultural Chaplaincy Lottery Grant
Cheshire Agricultural Chaplaincy have been arranging lunches for a group of farmers who suffer with depression.
These lunches are very informal and all that is expected of those involved is that they come out and enjoy a good meal and each other’s company
They want to expand the lunches around the county and have applied to People Project for the funding
Please click on this link http://www.itv.com/news/granada/2016-02-29/the-peoples-projects-is-launched/ and then vote for them on http://itv.com/thepeoplesprojects
For further details please contact:-
Canon Keith Ineson BEM, Mth,ACII. 10, Lea Drive, Wimboldsley, Cheshire. CW10 0LX 07967559594 www.agchap.co.uk
We have today been advised by our contact at the Met Police that a transport meeting is being held tomorrow and by Wednesday we should have details of route, timings etc.,
Patience is still required but organisation for the March is progressing well.
Attendance - If everybody would like to help by asking around your community whether they will be attending or not and then notify the FFA office either by e mail firstname.lastname@example.org, text 07710 640567,
or message us via Facebook, so that we can gauge attendance.Also it goes without saying that we of course welcome as many members of the general public as possible.
Sponsorship -We know that a lot of sponsorship has already been pledged but we need more and would ask all members to seek sponsorship from any of their suppliers. No matter how small, it is all very welcome and appreciated. Funding is desperately needed and it would be good to see a commitment from the ancillary industries whose business we support.
March Timetable - Further details on times for arrival in London etc., will be put up on web site and through the farming media, who judging by today's farming press are certainly doing their bit to support this march.You could also yourselves contact your local radio and newspapers to advertise the March.Posters and press releases will be circulated in due course but nothing stopping you making up your own and handing in at your feed merchant, vet, etc. to get the message out in good time.
This Is Not A Dairy March - A number of people continue to comment on social media that this is a dairy protest, can we reiterate again this March is for the whole of British agriculture, all sectors are under immense financial pressure so would you please refrain from posting this negativity on social media. Thank you.
Although not a price increase, it was good to see today that Meadow Foods have announced they will not be reducing their milk price for March.Although we understand how difficult it is for dairy farmers to produce milk at 19ppl, it would have been another disaster if they had dropped their milk price further.We are currently in talks with the above company and are duly meeting with them in the next week or so and will keep you all posted - David Handley FFA
FARMING TO LONDON MARCH 2016
We now have preliminary details of our proposed March.
Having spoken to the authorities in London, it will take place probably 2nd or 3rd week in March on a weekday, ending outside Downing Street whereupon a letter will be delivered to Prime Minister David Cameron on behalf of the farming community.
We are in the hands of the authorities, and cannot just go along and hope for the best, to be successful we have to work with them, and they will work with us, it takes a lot of organising on our part so please be patient whilst date and further details are confirmed.
One word of caution, we need at least 1,000 to attend and unless we are pledged this amount of support, it will not take place. So we would urge all interested parties to pass the information around to your relatives, friends,neighbours, ancillary businesses, etc., and lets make this happen.
Further details will be sent as and when available.
If you wish to purchase clothing, car stickers etc., please do so asap We have already reordered beanies and stickers due to demand. Hoodies, baseball caps and childs clearance hoodies still available but going fast.
THE TESCO/ARLA DEBACLE
It seems that some farmer representatives are getting their knickers in a twist over comments on this site. So for clear transparency in relation to the above issue, FFA have no problem with any single dairy farmer receiving the benefit of more money from British milk arriving in their bank accounts. ie the Muller producers, a minority, who will benefit from the extra 200m litres of milk gained through Tesco's decision.
but as stated it is a small number who will benefit, it is the majority that will end up being the losers. Those lucky enough and who live in the right area and by an act of God have received a COP contract need to remember that before they start throwing stones.
The issue with Arla everybody seems to be forgetting is that yes, money is going to a substantial number of European dairy farmers but also remember before you are critical of Arla, that the money comes back the other way to the benefit of 3,800 British dairy farmers. This is the problem with our dairy industry in the UK, instead of us all trying to work together for the benefit of everyone, individuals, both producers and other organisations seem to love to stir rather than work to secure a future. We hope this now makes it perfectly clear FFA's concern in this whole matter is the impact of the 200m litres that Tesco in their wisdom have decided to push into the abyss and the impact that will have on every other non COP producer.
GROCERY CODE ADJUDICATOR ANNOUNCMENT ON TESCO
What a joke! Christine Tacon, head of GCA, gives Dave Lewis and his team a slap on the wrists for yet another Tesco misdemeanour. Most people in the industry thought Christine had the power to fine until she dropped the bomb shell when as a witness at an EFRA enquiry into dairy, she had no powers to fine. This whole GCA issue has been a sham, no government is going to fine a giant corporate plc who sells food at giveaway prices yet sits back and allows an industry to follow what has already happened to the coal and steel industry. If anyone out there is expecting any retailer to be shaking in their boots when they hear GCA may be sniffing around, think again.
FFA COMMITTEE MEETING 26/1/2016
Following last night's FFA meeting, there were only two major issues on the agenda and that was the decision by Tesco to remove 200m litres of milk from Arla and give to Muller and what should we do about it. The decision was that we should wait a few days whilst this unfolds, ever in the hope Tesco might have a change of mind. If they do not it was a unanimous vote that action has to be taken.
On the issue of another milk processor, Meadow Foods, it was decided that if enough of their producers were prepared to support further protest, and we could get the backing of other organisations to notify their members, we will be back at their door fairly quickly, as there is unfinished business. But the Chairman was instructed to talk with Meadow Foods to see if some negotiated settlement could be achieved.
Before everyone starts getting excited, we only talking of days to wait.
Again a unanimous vote was taken that we should go ahead in taking all sectors of our industry to London. We are looking at a date in March and would hope that everybody will support, even if you are only able to send a friend or relative. After all we understand we are all working farmers. Please continue to pledge your support through social media or contacting your co-ordinator or the office. We will be putting out an A4 sheet at as many ancillary businesses and livestock markets for you to sign and pledge that you will attend. We hope that will happen very quickly.
This is your opportunity to come to London and tell Mr Cameron and his government British farming is prepared to fight for its survival. FFA strongly believes there are a number of things this government could do to ease the situation in many sectors.
Please note, anyone who thinks they are going to come along and behave in a manner not fitting with what we are trying to achieve, our advice is - stay at home. In our conversations with the authorities we will make it perfectly clear, anyone who steps outside of the law is to be dealt with by them. Remember we are going to the capital of this country as representatives of our industry, we need to show who we are, what we do and get our message across in a most peaceful manner, that is how we will succeed.
More info on this will follow as things progress but again keep pledging your support. We are currently looking into transport, ie coaches etc., and will up date as and when.
********MILK SHOCK******* UPDATE ********
We are prepared to name the retailer.It is none other than 'every little helps' Tesco!
They are removing 200m litres of milk from Arla, a farmer owned co-op and are giving that quantity to independently owned Muller.This means 200m litres of milk is destined for Westbury at a farm gate price of around 16ppl.In Farmers For Action's view this is totally irresponsible of Tesco were operating a 50/50 share between the two companies.We feel this has been done at a time when the dairy industry is facing some of its darkest hours.
In response, Tesco will obviously say, which will be correct, they are still paying a COP figure to all their producers and we support that, but this has decimated the rest of the liquid dairy sector.Whilst this is happening, we understand from various sources that Muller are offering liquid milk at discounted prices to try and get business away from Arla. You would now question the comments of NFU, Rob Harrison, suggesting farmers should look for an exit strategy (how long has the NFU known about the above?)I think a public statement from the President himself should tell the industry he knew nothing of this or if he did, when.
Since posting last night this revelation, we now understand that an individual employed by Tesco has said the decision has not yet been finalised.We find this very interesting especially on the day when Tesco have been found guilty by the Grocery Code Adjudicator of bad practice.So we say to you Tesco, if you want to avoid thousands of farmers coming to your stores to tell the consumer, shutting down your distribution centres, you need to reinstate a farmer owner co-op as your 50% supplier on liquid milk.If not, a fight you will have, the rest of us have got nothing to lose.Your actions will impact on all but your own selected bunch of dairy producers.We are not prepared to sit back and accept what you are doing.You can issue Writs, threaten legal action, you can do what you like because we are about to fight to stop our industry being destroyed by you, a major retailer.
MARCH TO WESTMINSTER
This proposal seems to have gone down well. We want it to involve all sectors of the industry.In 6 hours last night we had over 1,000 pledges by producers and supporters to go to London, straight to Mr Cameron and say we are not going the same way as British coal, British steel and many other industries without a fight.
TO PRIME MINSTER DAVID CAMERON
You could avoid this, Mr Cameron, if you attended to what Tesco are currently trying to do to the dairy sector.You and your government have let our industry down, you have let the countryside down, you made promises to many sectors that you were going to turn things around, what has your government done?Ms Truss has told us to go to China, a failing economy, you with your European colleagues have closed the door on Russia, have made enemies where there was no need to do so.
British farmers, are the backbone of both food production and caring for the countryside in the UK.In recent months we have been blamed for the serious flooding, we have been blamed for the negative effect we have on the environment by several commentators, so within the next few weeks plans are afoot, we are coming to the capital and would hope that your yourself will be prepared to meet with us and hear what ordinary, hardworking farmers have got to say.We will not be fobbed off with your or your Ministers having cosy chats with the NFU to try and stop this from happening.
WE ARE COMING!
A major British retailer, in one clean sweep, is about to decimate the liquid milk sector.We also have knowledge that a German milk processor is currently offering milk to other retailers at up to a 7ppl discount.These actions are going to create a stark two tier milk industry with those producers Who Have, and all the rest of us paying the price, and will blow our industry wide apart.
We will obviously keep all members informed over the next week to 10 days as this unfolds but would say dust off your winter woollies, because this is going to be boom or bust for many, many dairy producers.The gloves are off and we will not go down without a fight, if we have to suffer and lose our businesses, we will make 100% sure that those causing this devastation suffer too.
We would totally agree with Rob Harrison, NFU Dairy Chairman, in that a lot of dairy farmers should be looking at an exit strategy or alternatively, all the Have Nots coming together as one under a Producer Organisation and we reinvent the MMB.
Your choice, all views very welcome.
Well lets start off 2016 with some questions.
1 To all our critics in relation to Meadow Foods.Can we ask you where were you all at the end of November when we started a campaign against this company?
60 strong willed dairy farmers turned up, despite the weather conditions.
2 Why did the NFU condemn FFA when the above action was taken yet now I see Mr Harrison, NFU's milk chairman, being very critical of Meadow Foods, have we had a lover's tiff over Christmas?
3 Our Christmas protest campaign on lamb and milk.For those of you being critical that nothing happened it is very simple, nobody showed any interest.
4 Various commentators, some very loud mouthed ones, have criticised the lack of leadership, so if the leadership is a problem, why do these people not stand at the front of the queue.When leaders make suggestions we are criticised which is why some people think, why bother.
5 We have an FFA committee meeting next week.I would like all our paid up members who are critical of the lack of any activity to forward to the chairman, in writing, email@example.com their suggestions for going forward in this very difficult time that all sectors are facing in our industry.
6 The issue of fighting for a milk price increase.We think before we go down that road dairy farmers have got to reduce production which is having a negative effect on our industry.To increase the price now would simply encourage production.FFA is not going to be one of the so called representative bodies advocating more milk when there is no market. If imports were curtailed, then we would have a market and to this end I would question Arla farmers for allowing more and more product to come in from Europe which is undermining our milk price.Replies in writing please, not obscenities on Social Media.
In conclusion, we are sure, following our meeting next week, your hardworking committee members will come up with some suggestions as to what we do going forward but you all have to remember, as paid up members, our goals can only be achieved if we have your physical support. To all those unpaid members who criticise any organisation it is very easy sat at the end of a keyboard, again if you want to contribute to getting our industry back to profitability, again in writing put your name forward.I am sure one of the organisations out there would welcome people who are prepared to give up their time and their social life to make our industry great again.
Morrisons have just announced that they are moving 4 pints of milk to £1. Well done Morrisons. Another major retailer is also about to follow suit.
Catering wholesalers 3663 & Makro/Booker are now in FFA's vison for their massive meat imports and milk sourcing policy.
Thank you once again Richard Spratley and his company Revival Trailers for their very generous sponsorship.
Richard's company specialises in the manufacture and supply of a range of catering/promotional trailers styled to recapture the retro American style of the 1940s and 50s. Nothing to do with farming but he is passionate about the UK farming industry and the work of FFA.
We are so proud that the firms on our sponsors page back us 100% and without them and our membership, FFA would not be able to operate at the present level, so please take a look if you haven't already. But - there are so many ancillary businesses out there who rely upon and make money from our industry and yet fail to support. Unlike other organisations, FFA are a voluntary organisation, run on a shoestring but we think we do a pretty good job, so lets see more support from those we help keep in business.
So, once again Richard Spratley, thank you.
Revival Trailers Unit D1a,Cradley Enterprise Centre,Maypole Fields,
Cradley,West Midlands,B63 2QB (01384) 936073
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Revival Trailers® are a company based in the West Midlands UK
FFA's Chairman David Handley has just returned from a meeting with another retailer, the topics at the meeting were around the issue of importation of NZ lamb and how British sheep farmers could displace this product if the retailers were prepared to support. This was a very forthright meeting where both parties put their case as to where they stood on this issue. Some progress was made and they have stated they will report to FFA at the beginning of next week.
Also at the meeting DH proposed a COP formula which has already been put to another retailer. This was welcomed and led to a lot of discussion around how this would deliver a sustainable price to British lamb producers. It would have to be linked to the grades of lamb required by the customer and that any lambs that fell outside of that would obviously be bought on a market valuation. This created a great deal of debate as the retailer could see they would be getting the product they required and would not be saddled with carcasses outside of their specifications. They were going to go away and have discussions with their supplying abattoirs and again would be back at the beginning of the week with their views. DH said he found it a very positive meeting and he saw no reason why this formula could not be rolled out right across the lamb industry but was also conscious that we have to make sure that somehow this also gets transferred through to the livestock auction system which FFA believes needs to be kept as a true indication of market values. Since returning DH has had two e mails from other retailers who wish to show interest and meet with FFA.
MILK MARKET There seems to be some confusion over FFA's release that another major retailer is going to increase 4 pints of milk back to £1. Can we reiterate, we put no date to this increase but we are assured again today it is happening. If anyone at that retailer is now considering playing games maybe you should be put back to the top of the Christmas protest league table.
CHEESE Talking to various cheese processors and various analysts this week, FFA are deeply concerned about the volume of cheese that is in storage, with some processors finding it very difficult to find storage. This brings us on to the issue of the volumes of milk we as dairy farmers are producing.We have to remember cheese that goes into storage, will eventually have to come onto the market, and this could happen just as we start to see some recovery.
Having cheese at a market saturation point in FFA's opinion, is very, very dangerous. We really all need to look, both dairy farmer and processor, at where we are going with this fantastic product.
CHEESE PROMOTION There is some very disturbing news coming out this week on cheese consumption. The issue being that the largest consumer of cheddar cheese is over the age of 65, and as someone who is reaching that point very rapidly, your volume consumption tends to drop off. The under 35s are consuming considerably less in % terms and remember they are the volume consumers. This is very, very dangerous stuff because they are our cheese consumers of the future.
This surely must indicate to those in power and those who say they represent our industry, more of our money must be spent on promotion of great British dairy. We don't think there is an argument that could be brought about to say otherwise and we are sure every dairy farmer would rather see their money being spent, however small that amount is, in promoting and selling our products.
There are plenty of consultants out there who can advise on other matters concerning dairy farming, maybe it is time for a summit meeting to be called to discuss this issue where we would suggest involving the Agricultural Minister.
At FFA would be very interested in our members' views on this issue, please forward your views to the office email@example.com
MEADOW FOODS Since protesting at Meadow Foods there has been no direct communication between them and FFA. Therefore, it looks as though it will be necessary to continue the protest. On the back of this we are also writing letters to all the CEOs of the food manufacturing industry asking a number of questions and we are sure some of these businesses are customers of Meadow Foods.
Believe us, FFAs resolve to find where every penny is being hidden in this dairy supply chain will be continuing with vigour. No stone will be left unturned, so to all in the dairy supply chain, why not come clean and lets see if we can get our industry back to where it should be - which is everybody making a sustainable, profitable living.
AHDB/NFU (Old Boys Network) We have in our opinion at the top of AHDB, a brilliant mind and communicator in Sir Peter Kendall, a man that turned the NFU completely around, so I question why, oh why are we seeing a continual flow of failed NFU officials being given jobs at AHDB? The latest being ex vice president Adam Quinney, who for failure to do his job properly was booted out by the NFU membership. He now stands alongside Gwyn Jones and Paul Temple both removed by farmer members.
So Sir Peter, why are you now using farmers' money to pay people who farmers already told the NFU were not fit for purpose? We look forward as a levy paying farmers to hear your reasons behind the appointment of these individuals.
LAMB FFA have been in several meetings this week trying to find solutions to the dire situation facing sheep farmers. Virtually all the meetings have been robust but we do believe our customers are now starting to listen. Obviously, the issue of NZ lamb is of major concern and we would now like to see an EFRA enquiry into the sheep industry.
The arguments put forward by our customers, we do not believe in 2015, stand up. We have a fantastic sheep farming industry full of entrepreneurial sheep farmers who are developing their businesses on the basis of the market requirements but they still face a 'take what we pay you' attitude from our customers. This has to change, our sheep farmers are probably some of the most adaptable and capable of doing great things, one of the most simple being to provide the general public with British lamb 12 months of the year, no necessity for importation which does nothing for our country's GDP. The sheep industry is perfectly capable of doing this but to our customers, you have to realise for them to invest, become more efficient and produce the product you require, they need a sustainable price at the end. FFA have put a number of proposals to certain purchasers of this product and at this moment we are awaiting with bated breath their responses.
Some farmers are so desperate in this market that they are threatening protest. We do not feel at this moment in time this is justified as long as our customers realise what they have to do in the supply chain. So therefore FFA's challenge is reduce NZ, very quickly i.e. 2015/16 production year and let our valued British sheep farmers fill that vacuum. That is your challenge.
Following Iceland's initiative in raising 4 pints to £1, another major retailer is about to announce a similar move. All hard work by Working Group is starting to pay off bringing more money into the supply chain.
REPORT ON LAST NIGHT PROTEST AT MEADOW FOODS by David Handley FFA Chairman
I find it so sad that after 12 hours the controversy regarding last night's protest has already started, this after 100 plus people arrived at Meadow Foods processing plant in horrendous weather conditions, travelling from Birmingham, Derbys, N Wales and Cumbria that this morning they will read some negative comments being placed on Twitter, FB and other social media sites. Can I please put the record straight.
Firstly - dialogue - As FFA chairman, I have spoken to Meadow Foods in recent weeks, communicated as late as yesterday afternoon by e mail, so please don't anyone say FFA have not used the correct protocol.
Secondly - To those this morning who are criticising their members who were at that site last night for preventing the export of dairy product - I raise this question.
Are we now saying that a factory that is not part of the Voluntary Code, who run a very large scale business and a profitable one, to give them credit, can do all of this whilst dairy farmers are being brought to their knees?
Are we saying it is right that people should be threatened with the loss of contracts?
Is it correct for a representative of the factory to tell the Police that there was nothing moving from that site last night when Polish tankers arrived to collect product with the manifest, that they were nothing to do with that site?
Every man and his dog is calling for unity, I would suggest unity starts at home and for the person who has commented "I expect we will be after the glory". FFA get no satisfaction from what it had to do last night but dialogue was tried right up to the last minute and failed to deliver anything.
I would not be so precocious as to suggest that last night's protest will deliver more money but what it will do is cement in the heads of the management of Meadow Foods, we are certainly not going to go down without a fight.
Finally, I think the one most humiliating individual is the man this morning who has condemned the action at Meadow Foods and who for the last three years has been condemning FFA for NOT protesting at this site.
We now move on, a lot more has to be done and as long as the FFA membership supports us we will continue to try to improve the incomes of dairy farmers, with or without the help of others.
Today we have learnt that the dairy industry has stooped to an all time low. We have been told in the last hour by the NFU, who are not supporting tonight's protest, that our target for this evening have told them that if they put the price up for the milk they purchase, some producers in Cumbria will lose their milk contract.
What a disgusting situation.
This shows the bullying tactics that this milk processor, IF TRUE, has lowered itself to. It also brings into question the NFU, who only a matter of two weeks ago supported action at a milk processor that had just given a 1.6ppl price increase in the form of a supplementary payment to its producers, yet chooses not to support action against a processor who blames everyone else as a reason for not increasing their milk price and who threatens to take away farmer contracts, again if they did say it!
Removal of members from the FFA Group
People are removed from this site for various reasons
1. Posting inappropriate images or advertisements, abusive comments, propaganda, etc., When you have over 9.5k members of a group, it is very difficult filtering this out until a post is made, and when reported they are removed asap.
2. There are also a few who are removed for reasons known to themselves, but specifically for deliberately attacking FFA's integrity or that of any of its officials, via other social media sites, etc., then of course they will be removed as would happen in any other organisation. Surprisingly they still whine about their removal. Several had already been re accepted to the group but had to be removed once more as they could not help reverting to their old ways.Of course, they are perfectly entitled to their opinions, but not whilst members of the FFA group. Some members will probably know those involved and we are sure that this information will be passed on.
The FFA group is open to lively debate, as can be seen on a daily basis which is welcome. We hope it helps in some small way to keep farmers communicating with each other. Sometimes it does get a bit out of hand but that is only to be expected in what is a very difficult and stressful time for farming in the UK at present.
FFA PROTEST - TUESDAY 17/11/2015 MEET AT 8 PM AT HOLIDAY INN, CHESTER CH4 9DL Contacts: TOM HOUGHTON 07540704887 , N Wales MIKE JONES 07789818186 or DAVID HANDLEY 07711194947
The usual screen shots will no doubt be posted.
We expect a large turnout judging by the number of complaints we have received about this target. We have spoken to the target and I am afraid are not satisfied with the responses. If all those who have complained do not bother to turn up then we can judge that everyone is happy with the current state of play, so please bring all the family.
If you would like any FFA clothing, etc., have a look at the FFA Merchandise page, please message and these can be brought along for you.
This week Chairman of FFA was invited to go and give a presentation to the Tenant Farmers Association Executive Committee. Chairman reported he found it an inspirational meeting with people that have done so much for the tenanted sector. FFA have always worked very closely with the TFA, a body of very honourable and trustworthy individuals, whose only aim is to improve the sustainability of the tenanted sector. A number of issues were discussed regarding the livestock and arable sectors with a fairly intense discussion surrounding the current crisis in dairy. We will obviously continue working closely together going forward for the benefit of all our members.
ACTION ON MILK PRICES Last week saw a Milk Trolley Challenge aimed at retailer Farm Foods. This was carried out by our faithful young friends of Gloucestershire, it took place in Bristol and again highlighted to Farm Foods they have got to step up to the plate and increase the price they pay for dairy products. To date we still have no communication with Farm Foods senior management, so it is fairly obviously we will need to step up activity in the run up to Christmas.
MILK PROCESSOR ACTION To all members, get your warm coats out for this coming week as a call will be put out for you to come and attend a protest at a processor who continues to drop milk prices and continues to blame everyone else for the problem. We will expect a good turnout, if not we will judge that everyone is happy with the current situation. Notification for the protest to FFA members will be made over the weekend. PRODUCER ORGANISATIONS In an earlier bulletin we stated that the Working Group had now completed its work on the above and that we had intended to get the information out into the public domain. We are sorry for the delay but that has been due to the amount of intense work that has been put into this and we are assured that within the next week we will have the completion of all the documentation where we are sure all Working Group members will be on the road in various regions to explain to farmers why we see the benefits of Producer Organisations and get your feedback so that we can progress this further for the benefit of the dairy industry. Thank you for your patience in this matter.
FOR THE BENEFIT OF FFA MEMBERS Some of you will have seen on Ian Potter's web site last Friday a very disturbing turn of events in the way certain people are attacking FFA, especially the Chairman and his family. We were hoping not to mention this issue again but unfortunately this week individuals have decided to expand their target range to other FFA committee members and also contact Ian Potter with blatant lies at the way FFA runs. It saddens us as some of these people are calling for unity and that FFA will not engage in dialogue. FFA, as you can see from above, work with a large number of organisations for the benefit of British agriculture. But what we will not do is sit down with people who either before, during or after decide to behave in the manner described above. The way to build bridges is state your grievances to the individual who is causing you concern, or if you want someone removed from an organisation do it in a democratic way, join the organisation, put forward your motion to its membership and get that individual removed. No one person is bigger than the organisation. We will sit back and see if this is the way it develops. Remember, if two opposing parties face crossing a raging river, they quickly would realise they needed to work together to cross.
CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN To day sees the start of our usual Christmas campaign, this will involve visiting retailers and members of the food service industry plus milk processors who over the last 2/3 months have met with members of the Working Group (FFA,NFU,TFA) and where they have been comprehensively told about the current plight of the British dairy farmer. As you know, many of them have come to the table, listened, gone away and have started to deliver some monies to the industry. Obviously, not enough and not quick enough but at least they have made an effort. But, there are those whom we have met, especially retailers, who have decided to do nothing. So tonight, the first of them will be put under the spotlight to show we are not prepared to sit back and allow them to get away with not contributing to our current critical situation on milk price. We will also in the next week to 10 days, will be visiting certain milk processors.
These individuals have either refused point blank to pay farmers a sustainable milk price or even worse have blamed everybody else for them not being able to pass on money, yet we see by their quarterly figures they continue to make profit. At FFA we want to see every business have opportunity to grow and make profit but in a time when the supply chain is not delivering a sustainable milk price to dairy farmers we expect everybody to take the same amount of pain. We are sure there will be good support from all dairy farmers right across the country. Some of the protests will have to be during the day but we will endeavour to ensure the start and finish time enables it to happen between milkings. We hope you will all support. Results of tonight's trips out will be posted both here and on Facebook
United we stand, divided we fall. In recent weeks unfortunately there has been some negative publicity surrounding FFA. This has come from a minority of individuals who have an agenda which the FFA committee feels will not deliver a single penny to our industry, but we have to try and find ways to work with everyone in the supply chain. A recent article written in Farmers Guardian where David Handley openly he nor the FFA committee practice. To put the record straight we work with many groups and organisations throughout the UK, be they big or small to improve the lot for British farmers. What we cannot do is work with any group whose agenda has other motives. We have also been accused of not meeting with any such group, the reason for that is very simple, there has to openness and honesty, not say one thing and within one hour do the complete opposite. We have to remember we are not working for ourselves but for every hardworking farming family in the UK. We will continue to try and find ways we can accommodate other people's views and ways to work with them for the benefit of the industry as a whole.
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