First Milk has called for the UK dairy industry to react to rising costs and changes to EU subsidies by introducing more realistic farm-gate milk prices.

Robert Wiseman and Graham’s Dairies have announced price increases this week but First Milk insisted this reaction is too little too late.

“Despite the overwhelming statistics pointing to the need for milk prices to rise, the market has been slow to react so far,” a spokesperson for the dairy farmers’ group told just-food. “Liquid prices will have to move first to re-establish their premium position in the dairy hierarchy.

The spokesperson added: “We are acutely aware of the pressures our members are under and we are forthright in our dealings with our customers to achieve price rises from them as quickly as possible.”

This was the message First Milk chairman Richard Greenhalgh took to the all-party parliamentary group for dairy farmers when he met with MPs earlier this week. 

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“We are not saying the countryside should become a museum. We simply believe the price paid for milk should be realistic and enable progressive, efficient farmers to flourish,” he said.

First Milk has calculated that, taking account of increasing production costs, family labour and a profit margin on 10%, farmers should be paid 29.64ppl in 2008/9.

In 2006/7 farmers actually received 17.4ppl.