Two weeks ago Farmers For Action decided to call a meeting to be held at The Farmers Club in London, today 24 April 2002. An invitation was sent to the following co-ops - First Milk, Milk Link, Zenith, Milk Group and United Milk and the following politicians - Lord Whitty, Peter Ainsworth Shadow Secretary of State, DEFRA and Colin Breed, Liberal Democrat, DEFRA team. This meeting was to try and get an understanding of what is going wrong with the co-operative movement. It was hoped that this type of forum would have assisted our industry to go forward not plummet into the deep abyss that it is now heading for.

The meeting was to be sponsored by RABDF and chaired by Mr Tim Brigstoke Chairman RABDF. We feel that your readers and dairy producers should be made aware that this meeting has had to be cancelled for the following reason:-

Zenith, The Milk Group, United Milk, Lord Whitty, Peter Ainsworth and Colin Breed failed to even reply to their invitation. First Milk and Milk Link at least has the courtesy to respond, albeit negatively. First Milk's letter stating its non-attendance arrived at 10 am on 24 April!

The only two people who had the common courtesy to ring and speak to FFA explaining their reasons were Mr Jeremy Pope Chairman of Milk Link and Mr Roger Evans, Deputy Chairman First Milk.

There have been a number of accusations made by the media about the turmoil within the co-operative movement. The aim of the meeting was to prove this was not the case, unfortunately we appear to have got it wrong.

Maybe the time has come to dump the co-operative movement, the Federation of Milk Groups and all dairy producers return to selling direct to the processor. At least we would all have thousands more pounds in our bank accounts. These are strong words from the FFA, an organisation that has encouraged co-operation.

How can you expect farmers to co-operate when the very organisations set up to lead the way have all failed us yet again? We think it is time producers voiced their opinion loud and clear to those co-operatives or groups to whom they sell their milk - your time is running out for delivery of your promises!

This is a last ditch attempt to save the British dairy industry.

David Handley