Farmers Block Tesco Delivery Trucks With Their Tractors To Protest Milk Imports

Michael Scott/Demotix/Corbis

Farmers upped their game in the ongoing battle against supermarket milk prices last night when they blocked the entrance of a Tesco and a Farmfoods distribution centre.

The group parked tractors outside the gates to both buildings in Avonmouth, Bristol and prevented any lorries from entering or leaving the depot in protest against the amount of milk and dairy products the supermarkets import.

At one point, around 70 lorries were unable to leave as 200 farmers blocked their exit.

Michael Scott/Demotix/Corbis

In a Facebook post, campaign group Farmers for Action wrote:

This one is all about getting cheese milk price up with a retailer [Tesco] who does pays cost of production to his farmer suppliers for its milk and some of its mature cheese, but is one of the biggest importers of dairy products in the retail sector.

The blockade did the trick, as Tesco agreed to talk to the leaders of the group, so the farmers turned their attention to the nearby Farmfoods depot.

However, Farmfoods were not so accommodating and the group said they were basically stonewalled by the supermarket chain. Farmfoods have declined to comment on the situation.

Michael Scott/Demotix/Corbis

Leader of the campaign group, David Handley, said Tesco was being targeted because of the sheer volume of milk they import to make cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products which (according to the farmers) they then market as British, and Handley believes UK farmers are being let down by Tesco.

Hanley said:

This is Tesco, every little helps unless you are a British dairy farmer. They have stood up at conferences for many years stating they are the biggest supporter of British farming, on evidence in Tesco Stores today that is clearly untrue.

To give credit to Tesco they do support a small number of dairy farmers on liquid milk and a small number of farmers on mature and extra mature cheese, paying a cost of production figure. This needs to change and change overnight. Remember Tesco, you have made billions on the back of the British farming industry it is time now to step up to the plate and pay a fair price for a unique product supplied to you by British farmers.

Michael Scott/Demotix/Corbis

The blockade follows recent protests against milk and dairy prices in supermarket chains around the UK, where angry farmers cleared the shelves of milk completely and then abandoned it all at the checkout.