18th Oct, 2017

Farmer struggling to survive as milk prices war rages

Stratford Editorial 6th Aug, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A DAIRY farmer in the district says he is doing all he can to survive as the supermarket milk price war rages on.

Pictures of farmers filling supermarket trolleys with milk and protesting outside stores this week have made national headlines. While a litre of milk cost customers around £1 in most stores – farmers do not even a quarter of the money.

Shipston farmer Robert Cole makes just 23p for each litre he passes to his suppliers Freshways – who then sell to supermarkets and other shops.

And this price drops to just 14p per litre if he exceeds the amount needed by suppliers.

The 67-year-old, who owns Lands End Farm, said: “Milk is so cheap now that people don’t even look at the price, they just put it straight in their basket.

“This time last year we got around 30p per litre, this is the lowest it has ever been.

“It isn’t so bad in summer as the cows are outside and graze on the grass – but in winter it becomes expensive because we have to pay for the grain to feed them.

“The supermarket price war is making things a nightmare. In the meantime we just have to be as efficient as we can and weather the storm.”

The father-of-three took over the running of the 73-year-old business from his own father Samuel, and hopes to pass it on to his son Joe when he retires.

Before the price of milk was slashed earlier this year, he took out a loan to replace the farm’s ageing dairy parlour and buy a new tractor.

He had also planned to add 20 more cows to add to his already 100-strong herd.

But with the decline in prices, he is concerned about paying the money back and may even have to take out another loan to cover the repayments.

He said: “We took out the loan for the barn before the big price cut but if prices don’t go up again soon we may have to go back to the bank to get another loan to pay off the one we already have.

“This is the worst we have known it to be. It has been bad before but this is the worst.”

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