French dairy groups have agreed to hold fresh talks with farmers on milk prices next week in an effort to avoid a repeat of the disruption in supplies to processing plants seen last year.

News of the upcoming talks followed a day of action by farmers yesterday when delegations went to the head offices of dairy processors and co-operatives to demand the application of a price agreement signed last year.

Ahead of next week’s negotiations, Bel has announced it will pay suppliers EUR330 per 1,000 litres for milk supplied in July and EUR301 euros per 1,000 litres over the whole of 2010. The price increase is close to 10% on 2009 prices – and corresponds more or less to farmers’ demands.

An official for France’s largest farmers federation, the FNSEA, described yesterday’s meetings with the dairy processors  as “a step forward”.

Meanwhile, Lactalis and Bongrain have called for negotiations to resume but have emphasised that it is necessary to take into account the difference in price paid for milk in France and Germany when setting future price agreements.

Some dairy processors have argued that French dairy groups are at a competitive disadvantage in relation to their German counterparts, which pay less for their milk.