French farmers are planning a day of action tomorrow (12 August) as they seek to intensify pressure on dairy groups to pay more for their milk.

Farmers have said their “ultimatum” for processors to respect a deal on price had expired. The agreement, the farmers claim, had made provision for price increases of 10% over the whole of 2010 against what was paid in 2009.

In recent weeks, farmers across France have called for a boycott of cheese brands Président, Caprice des Dieux and La Vache Qui Rit, claiming brand owners Lactalis, Bongrain and Groupe Bel are not paying the prices they agreed a year ago.

Bel has said it is “very surprised” at the farmers’ action, adding that “the 12 August ultimatum is not at all part of the framework of the working relations with our producers”.

Last month, Bel wrote to producers inviting them to hold talks in September on prices for the second half of 2010 and also for 2011.

However, the unions, in a letter to Lactalis, Bel and Bongrain, as well as two cooperatives, Sodiaal and Laita, said that “short of an official reply on the resumption of negotiations”, farmers will assemble outside the firms’ HQs tomorrow morning and request meetings with executives.

France’s national federation of milk co-operatives, the FNCL, has called for a meeting of all sections of the country’s dairy industry to discuss milk prices for the third quarter of 2010, the perceived gap in competitiveness with Germany and the outlook when EU dairy quotas end around 2015.