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Dairy farmers in milk crisis talks
Talks over the controversial 2p a litre reduction in the price of milk will take place at the Royal Welsh Show in Powys
Dairy farmers are due to have crunch talks with milk processors as the stalemate over milk price cuts continues.
The two sides are set to meet at the Royal Welsh show in Powys after British farming ministers agreed to push them to back a new code of practice.
On Sunday night more than 2,000 farmers took part in a third round of protests over the milk pricing crisis blockading plants near Bridgwater, Somerset, Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire and Market Drayton in Shropshire.
James Badman, from the protest group Farmers for Action (FFA), said they were given little choice but to blockade. He said: "We will continue until we get a fair price for what we produce. This is a last resort."
Westminster's Jim Paice and his Welsh and Scottish ministerial counterparts Alun Davies and Richard Lochhead are united in pressing for both sides to back a new code on milk contracts, according the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. That would be subject to a review after 12 months to ensure it worked in practice.
Mr Paice will also hold a meeting with the big supermarkets later in the week to get them to sign up to a voluntary code. It is understood the ministers believe all sides must "get round the table" to avert further blockades and demonstrations.
In a joint statement the ministers said: "The dairy sector is a key part of our agricultural industry and all the Governments in the UK are determined that it should have a profitable and sustainable future. In responding to the current situation, industry needs to address both the immediate issue of the price paid for milk and also the structures and mechanisms that will help underpin the long term viability of the sector."
In recent days farmers have staged the latest in a wave of demonstrations to show their anger over being paid less for their milk than it costs to produce it.
The Co-operative and Morrisons supermarket chains have responded to the protests by announcing rises in premiums paid for milk to farmers. Meanwhile, from August 1 Asda is increasing the premium it pays to its dairy farmers by 2p per litre.
The increase means the supermarket giant's 272 Dairylink farmers will continue to be paid 27.5p per litre for the milk they produce - offsetting a cut previously announced by milk processing company Arla. The additional premium is, on average, equivalent to around £30,000 a year for a Dairylink farmer and means the price they are paid will not reduce on August 1 as previously feared.