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Last Updated: Friday, 3 December, 2004, 10:21 GMT
Angry dairy farmers form blockade
Milk protest
The farmers believe their livelihoods are at risk
More than 250 protesting dairy farmers stopped delivery trucks from getting into Asda's distribution depot in Falkirk on Thursday night.

They are angry over the supermarket's pricing policy, which they claim means farmers will be paid less for milk, despite price rises at checkouts.

The farmers are now calling on customers to shop elsewhere and have threatened to picket shop doors.

Asda said it had recently increased the amount it is paying producers.

The farmers believe the company's decision to change milk suppliers has pushed down prices across the industry, leaving many producers tens of thousands of pounds worse off.

I think this is very dangerous, the depression that is felt within the dairy industry is tangible
Alec Wilson
Dairy farmer
The move is part of an ongoing national campaign against Asda, which has already threatened to take legal action against some protesters in England.

Alec Wilson, a dairy farmer from the Borders, said: "I don't really think that Asda understand the implications of what they're doing, it's pure bully-boy.

"It's a very big stick for some very small people and they're playing with people's lives.

"I think this is very dangerous, the depression that is felt within the dairy industry is tangible.

"They are scaring people and if people are going to die over the head of this by suicides, I hope they can sleep at night."

What we've done is an industry ground-breaking deal
Nick Agarwal
Asda
Mr Wilson claimed that Asda's increase in payment of 0.5p per litre actually equated to 0.1p per litre in real terms for only a few farmers.

But Nick Agarwal from Asda insisted the firm was listening to farmers.

He said: "Over the last 12 months what we've done is an industry ground-breaking deal to ensure that, for the first time since the 1960s when Asda was formed, we have direct relationships with farmers that supply us with milk.

"We were in a position where we weren't sure that the money that we think dairy farmers deserve was going back to them because it was getting lost in the middle, but now we know exactly who those farmers are and that deal will come properly into effect in Scotland in the New Year.

"We can already see that half a pence per litre more can be paid to them and we've instigated that price increase from the start of December."

Mr Agarwal added that taking court action would be a last resort but that they felt strongly Asda was giving farmers a fair deal.



SEE ALSO:
Farmers stage supermarket picket
20 Nov 04 |  Lincolnshire
Farmers' blockade in milk protest
22 Oct 04 |  Lancashire
Farmers protest over milk prices
14 Nov 03 |  Berkshire


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