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Dairy farmers 'staring into the abyss', union representative tells ITV News

A representative from a key farmers union has told ITV News dairy farmers are "staring into the abyss" at the beginning of 2016 after a key retailer said it was slashing the price it pays for milk.

The Chairman of the National Farmers Union dairy board Rob Harrison said it looked like being a particularly bleak year for dairy farmers and warned that the industry was in absolute crisis.

Meanwhile dairy farmers from another group are planning a march on Downing Streetas the row over milk prices deepens.


Dairy farmers feel "completely undermined" by supermarkets

Farmers from across the region will be heading to Somerset later to take part in a national protest about milk prices.

It's follows protests in supermarkets across the region this week.

They say they'll be targeting sites in Bridgwater and Yeovil in a demonstration against the price supermarkets pay them for every pint.

Dairy farmers like James Badman argue that the falling prices mean they have no other option but to take peaceful action.

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  1. West Country (W)

Somerset farmers to protest falling milk prices

Farmers will protest in Bridgwater tonight over a further cut to the price they get paid for milk.

The new drop in price means farmers only receive an average of 24p per litre of milk - which costs around 30p to produce.

This follows similar action in October, when farmers blockaded a supermarket depot in Bridgwater.

Tune in to ITV News West Country at 6pm tonight, when we'll be talking to a dairy farmer about what has prompted this latest protest.

Tonight's protest will be the latest in a long-running dispute. Credit: ITV News

Progress on milk price talks

Dairy farmers fighting for a better price for their milk say they've made progress in talks with processors in Somerset. The group Farmers For Action has staged a series of blockades at the Robert Wiseman plant outside Bridgwater.

It says outline agreement has been reached on a new formula for milk pricing. But the group has warned that it may take further action if it doesn't see results soon.


Dairy farmers to sell off their herd

Rosalind Cookson will be particularly sad to let go of Snowy Credit: ITV West

A couple who have been dairy farmers all of their lives will sell off their herd tomorrow. Chris Gott and Rosalind Cookson from Gloucestershire say they have had enough of working hard for little gain and are getting out of the industry.

Despite a new agreement that's been drawn up between dairy farmers and milk processors, they don't believe there's a long term future in the industry.

Rosalind Cookson and Chris Gott are giving up dairy farming at Nashend Farm Credit: ITV West

Chris Gott says it's too hard to go on.

"How can you keep going forward if you keep getting knocked down? The prices of the milk. I mean we've got a young family. My son is quite keen on the cows but I don't want him to do dairy because there is no money in it".

Dairy farmers protest again over milk prices

Dairy farmers have been protesting outside the Robert Wiseman processing plant in Bridgwater. Credit: ITV West

Angry farmers blockaded a Bridgwater dairy processing plant last night, for the third time in the space of a week, in protest at milk price cuts they claim are crippling their livelihood.

Protest group Farmers For Action organised blockades at several UK dairies, including Bridgwater's Robert Wiseman Dairy. The action follows the company's announcement that it's cutting its milk price by 1.7p per litre from August 1.

Meanwhile, Milk supplier Dairy Crest bowed to pressure today and agreed to put its planned milk price cut on hold for at least two months, after protests from farmers.

Farmers say if Somerset-based Robert Wiseman Dairy doesn't do the same they'll be protesting at the plant again tonight.

Milk price code to be finalised by end of August

A voluntary code agreed by farmers and milk processors will be finalised by the end of August. Politicians arranged a crunch meeting today following blockades at milk processing plants across the country by farmers.

The finer details of the code will now be finalised by all parties by the end of August. The code means in future, contracts between farmers and dairy processors will be freely negotiated, fairer and more transparent.

– Government spokesman

As part of the agreement, individual farmers can negotiate contracts - covering issues such as pricing and notice periods. Farmers will also have the ability to leave contracts "more easily" if they are unhappy with the price they receive.

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