Farmer urges ‘buy Bri­tish’

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE ROPER

AFARMER who fears he will lose his liveli­hood if milk prices do not in­crease is en­cour­ag­ing shop­pers to ‘Buy Bri­tish’.

Mike Gor­ton, 59, from Hare­bar­row Farm in Over Alder­ley, has had the price he re­ceives for his milk cut to just 15p per litre com­pared to 30p last year.

The farmer of 40 years, whose el­derly par­ents live on his farm, says the high sup­ply of milk and the low de­mand means su­per­mar­kets have slashed their prices, leav­ing farm­ers out of pocket.

He said: “It is ab­so­lutely dire, the worst sit­u­a­tion ever. I am strug­gling to pay the bills and can’t see me pro­duc­ing milk be­yond Christ­mas at the mo­ment.

“I have to make a de­ci­sion be­fore the end of the year whether to stay in milk pro­duc­tion or not.

“It is a ten­anted farm so if I have to leave, my par­ents, who are in their 80s, would end up los­ing their home.”

Mike, who is chair­man of the North­west Dairy Board, says while he re­ceives a grant of the £10,000 un­der the EU funded Ba­sic Pay­ment Scheme, which acts as a safety net for farm­ers, it still does not meet the cost of run­ning the farm.

Farm­ers have been blockad­ing dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres and buy­ing up stocks of milk from store shelves and giv­ing it away for free in protest against the low prices.

And Aldi, Lidl and Asda su­per­mar­kets have now promised to pay a min­i­mum of 28p a litre, and Tesco, Waitrose, the Co-op and Sains­bury’s al­ready pay more than the cost of pro­duc­tion.

Mor­risons, who have pledged 26p a litre from later this month, have also launched Milk for Farm­ers ched­dar cheese, cost­ing 34p per pack more than its stan­dard ched­dar and pledg­ing the equiv­a­lent of a 10p per litre pay­ment back to farm­ers who sup­ply the milk.

But fa­ther-of-two Mike, who lives with his wife Pat

‘It is ab­so­lutely dire, the worst sit­u­a­tion ever’

in Nether Alder­ley, said that although the price in­creases may in­di­cate ‘light at the end of the tun­nel’ na­tion­ally, they will not im­prove the price he gets for his milk in the short term, as the in­crease will go to the milk pro­ces- sors who sell to the su­per­mar­kets.

He said: “It costs 24p to pro­duce a litre of milk. I’ve been work­ing 60 to 70 hours a week to pro­duce it and su­per­mar­kets have been selling it for the price of bot­tled wa­ter.

“But the milk on the shelves won’t al­ways be there as peo­ple won’t be able to af­ford to keep pro­duc­ing it.

“If we don’t act now in two years we may see high prices com­pounded by a short­age.”

●● Dairy farmer Mike Gor­ton fears his par­ents could lose their home if milk prices stay low

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