Angry farmers say they are going to target Fylde supermarkets in a war over the price of milk.
Three protests were carried out at three Preston supermarkets as part of a national wave of ‘milk trolley challenges’.
Everyone’s blaming one another, or saying there’s an oversupply of milk in the market, but we need the supermarkets to put pressure on their buyers to increase the prices paid to farmers.Jack Raby
After dumping the milk at the checkout at Morrisons and Aldi, protesters clubbed together to pay for the milk in Asda, which was then given out to customers free-of-charge in the car park.
Now organisers say they will expand their campaign to stores on the Fylde coast.
Co-organiser Robert Mason, 25, said: “I’m the fourth generation on our family farm in Garstang, but if it carries on like this, we’ll be selling up.
“We’ve lost between 32 and 35 per cent of our income in the last year and it means we can’t invest or build up our business. People are having to sell stock and lay people off.
“Nationally four dairy farms a week have gone since January. Lancashire is still a big farming area, but it’s got to the stage where those farms with only 90 to 100 cows have all gone. It’s a case of get big or get out.
“We’ve tried going to authorities about this but we’ve got nowhere, so this is what we’ve been forced to do.
“We picked Preston first because it was close, but we’re going to be hitting other supermarkets in Blackpool and Lancaster soon.”
Worried staff at Aldi and Asda in Preston called the police when protestors entered their shops, but officers were not needed to take action.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “The protests were peaceful and no arrests were made. Officers attended merely to keep the peace and to ensure no offences were detected.”
Jack Raby, a farmer on the Fylde, said: “We’re going to keep pushing with this, and hopefully we’ll be carrying out more challenges in days to come.
“Everyone’s blaming one another, or saying there’s an oversupply of milk in the market, but we need the supermarkets to put pressure on their buyers to increase the prices paid to farmers.
“It’s only a matter of four or five pence we’re asking for on a litre.”
An Arla spokesman said: “Arla is owned by 13,500 dairy farmers, 3,000 of whom are British. Therefore, we are acutely aware of the difficulties our farmer owners are facing at this difficult time.
“We are working independently with all our customers to support our farmer owners throughout this period of global market volatility.
“The situation is not helped by the fact that global milk production has consistently and continues to grow faster than global demand. These global developments are impacting all dairy markets throughout the world.”
Meurig Raymond, president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), said: “The market situation in dairy, lamb and many other products is driving farming families to a desperate state with returns from the market failing to cover costs of production.
“Farmers have worked very hard to gain the respect and support of the public for great British food - now farmers simply want and need a fair return for years’ of investment.”