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Dairy farmers plan future protests
Farmers have not ruled out further protests in the campaign against the price they are paid for milk, one of the industry's leaders has said.
David Handley, chairman of Farmers for Action (FFA), warned that producers could target other dairy processors after Friday's demonstrations.
Supporters of the FFA used tractors to block a Robert Wiseman Dairy processing plant near Bridgwater, Somerset, while other farmers gathered outside an Arla plant in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, and at another plant in Leeds.
Dairy farmers are furious about cuts of up to 2p a litre in the amount they receive from major milk processors and many fear the shortfall will force them out of business. The action is the latest in a series of protests by farmers who are angry that they are to be paid less for their milk than it costs to produce it.
Mr Handley, a dairy farmer from Monmouthshire, said there were meetings on Friday with Robert Wiseman and Arla and said plans were being drawn up for further demonstrations.
"You have got to give these people the opportunity to respond," he said. "We will judge at the end of that whether there is a necessity to go back there again or whether we move on to the next target."
The latest cuts will see farmers paid around 25p a litre for milk, but the NFU said the cost of production is 29p a litre, meaning a sale price of 29.5p is the minimum needed to remain viable.
Farming minister Jim Paice said he would be holding meetings next week with milk producers and supermarkets to draw up a voluntary code for contracts. He also criticised the supermarkets for their role, saying they were a "major player" in the market, which sees customers pay around 46p for a pint of milk.
He said: "I think supermarkets have to account for why they are using milk as a loss leader. On Thursday two of our biggest supermarkets launched a marketing campaigning bringing four pints for a pound and in one case 98p.
"There will always be some that are less efficient than others and they need to catch up. When you have got a supermarket selling milk at 25p a pint there isn't a farmer in Britain who could have that on the shelf at that price."