Dairy farmers being 'milked dry' in credit crunch

PUBLISHED: 09:06 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 22:24 15 June 2010

DAIRY farmers in the Axe Valley feel supermarkets are milking them dry by offering cut price milk following a bad summer and increasing overheads.

DAIRY farmers in the Axe Valley feel supermarkets are milking them dry - by offering cut price milk following a bad summer and increasing overheads.Phil Bird, of Shute, is calling for higher milk prices to counter financial losses after cows produced less milk because of the wet weather, and the cost of feeding them rose because of the lack of availability of feed.While the recent sunshine helped avert disaster, he said farmers would continue to struggle, especially with rising electricity and fuel prices.Mr Bird said: "To offer cut prices gives the public the completely wrong impression. "It makes them think that we must be earning a lot of money because we can afford to drop our prices."But we are only making a 1p or 2p margin of what we sell, if we are lucky. We sell our milk for 23p per litre and supermarkets offer it for 53p per litre. "They are making a huge margin and I feel as if they are making fun out of farmers."We are just keeping going at the moment. If overheads increase anymore and the prices don't go up, it will affect our livelihoods."The recent warm weather may have salvaged some crops, but Mr Bird feels some of the damage will be difficult to recover from. He said: "We've suffered financial loss because of the quality of feed. We have had to feed more. And the cost of straw for bedding has gone up. It's been a nightmare to a degree. "Without the recent change in weather it would have been disastrous. It could have been worse - but not much worse."But we need the milk prices to go up to counter the costs. If not, we could be back to where we were two years ago - where milk was at a negative price."The National Farmers' Union (NFU) is encouraging farmers to take on supermarkets, if milk price cuts threaten their livelihood.


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