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  1. ITV Report

'Desperate' farmers warn local food could disappear from shelves

Dairy farmers blockaded a distribution centre in Somerset last week, to protest about falling milk prices. Credit: ITV News

Farming leaders are warning food produced here in the West could disappear from supermarket shelves.

Following an emergency summit today they're calling for an emergency meeting with government ministers in response to the crisis.

Last week dairy farmers blockaded a distribution centre in Somerset to protest about falling milk prices, which they say are putting them out of business.

Meurig Raymond, president of the National Farmers Union (NFU) of England and Wales said many farmers faced "big decisions" about whether to leave the industry in the next few weeks, as they struggle to pay bills and face rising debts.

"Obviously the industry is in crisis. There's despair within our members.

"I've been farming for 45 years and this is the worst I've known, particularly the dairy sector and the lamb sector.

We've seen a 30% fall in milk prices in the last 12 months ... It's a crisis I've haven't seen in my farming career."

– Meurig Raymond, President of the National Farmers Union (NFU) of England and Wales

"This isn't farmers crying wolf, they fear for their future and for the future of their children. There is sheer desperation. People are so, so desperate."

– David Handley, Chairman of Farmers For Action

Both the government and the British Retail Consortium have issued statements in response to the crisis.

"There is no connection between the price of milk in supermarkets and the price retailers pay farmers for their milk.

"The retail industry pays a fair price with individual retailers using different payment models. We understand the current frustration of farmers but it is wrong to blame retailers."

– A British Retail Consortium spokesman

"We maintain a regular dialogue with farming unions and industry. We look forward to discussing these issues with them further."

– Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokeswoman

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