Sheffield farmers ‘milked dry’ in supermarket price wars

Farmer Jane Charlesworth from Old Wheel Farm in Loxley say that they are being run out of business by supermarkets cutting milk prices. Jane is pictured with son Ben, 15.
Farmer Jane Charlesworth from Old Wheel Farm in Loxley say that they are being run out of business by supermarkets cutting milk prices. Jane is pictured with son Ben, 15.
4
Have your say

Supermarket giants are running farmers in South Yorkshire and across the country out of business by underpaying on milk prices, a Sheffield farm has claimed.

Jane and Andrew Charlesworth run Old Wheel Farm in Loxley. Their family has been producing milk for over 100 years, but they are losing money on every litre thanks to price wars.

Mrs Charlesworth, aged 54, said: “We were paid about 30p a litre in 2013 and 2014 but it’s now just 19p.

“It costs about 28p a litre to produce so we are losing a massive amount of money. And this is happening country-wide.”

Nationally, farmers have been protesting at supermarkets by clearing milk off shelves and leaving it at the checkouts in trolleys.

Known as the milk trolley challenge, the trend has been sweeping social media in a bid to raise awareness of dairy farmers’ plight.

Mrs Charlesworth added: “Without a doubt supermarkets are putting farmers like us out of business.

“They are using milk for price wars to try to get people through the doors.

“When supermarkets lower the price, all the little shops have to follow. They are in a race to the bottom and they couldn’t care less about farmers.

“We have spoken to people and asked if supermarkets put 10p on the price of milk, and that 10p was guaranteed to go back to the farmer, would you pay it, and the vast majority have said yes.

“If supermarkets did that it would solve the problem overnight.”

Sheffield councillor for Stannington ward Vickie Priestley said: “It’s diabolical the way farmers are being treated. It’s a massive issue for the farming community.

“If you ring up any farm in Stannington, Bradfield or Loxley, they would say the same.

“It would be a massive loss for these communities if milk production came to a halt. For many it is their livelihoods and they won’t be able to get another job.

“We need to lobby the Government.”

National Farmers Union’ dairy board chairman Rob Harrison said: “Dairy farmers across the UK are struggling right now and it’s not getting any easier.

“The outlook for the rest of this year and into 2016 is not positive so we’re in for an extremely difficult autumn and winter.”