France’s main dairy farmers unions have given industrial groups until 12 August to respect a price agreement they claim makes provision for increases over the whole of 2010 of more than 10% on the previous year.
The unions have warned that failure to honour the deal, signed in June 2009, will see farmers call on plants to claim what they are owed.
Over the past week, union representatives across France have called on retailers and consumers to boycott cheese brands Président, Caprice des Dieux and La Vache Qui Rit. The unions clam the manufacturers – Lactalis, Bongrain and Groupe Bel – are not paying producers the prices they agreed a year ago.
Speaking on French radio this week, agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire came down firmly on the side of the farmers, saying they should be “properly remunerated”.
Dairy processors have consistently argued that milk prices in France cannot be sustained and point to the lower prices enjoyed by their competitors in Germany.
Officials at France’s dairy processing body, the FNIL, were not available for immediate comment on the farmers 12 August ultimatum.