Britain's angry dairy farmers will escalate mass protests over the weekend as they lash out at milk price cuts which threaten to put them out of business.
Hundreds of farmers with tractors blockaded processing plants in the early hours today and later they threatened to step up demonstrations elsewhere over the next few days.
They are swapping their fields for the streets because they say they are being paid less for their milk than it costs to produce it - a recipe for disaster.
Farmers face cuts of up to 2p a litre - but if there is an exodus from dairy production milk prices would rise long-term.
Some farmers are threatening to pour milk down the drains at their farms rather than send it to market.
National Farmers Union president Peter Kendall flew to Denmark today to talk to chiefs at milk processor Arla and he plans further meetings with other processors.
But the main force behind the protests is Farmers for Action - a more militant group of farmers formed in May 2000 because they were disillusioned by what they saw as ineffective representation.
Chairman David Handley, a dairy farmer from Monmouthshire in South Wales, warned that if the cuts issue continues to boil farmers will make the "ultimate sacrifice" and not send it to market.
He said milk processors had "got greedy and they have squeezed us and squeezed us to the point we have got to. We have got to fight for the industry because if we don't, the industry is going to go."
A spokesman for Country Standard, a monthly radical magazine for rural workers, explained: "Dairy farmers were particularly disadvantaged as they sell a highly perishable product in a consolidated market, often with little choice of to whom to sell.
"The current system of contracts between farmers and processors falls short of the standards set out by the European Commission and gives little certainty and confidence to farmers."
About 550 farmers and 120 tractors were between a Robert Wiseman Dairy processing plant in Bridgwater and a nearby Morrisons supermarket distribution centre.
And around 400 farmers gathered outside the Arla plant in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, while others gathered outside its plant in Leeds.
A spokesman for Robert Wiseman Dairies said: "It is our hope that the market for liquid milk and bulk cream will quickly find a balance which will allow us to return improved prices to farmers."
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond met dairy farmers outside Bute House in Edinburgh during a protest there.
Free milk was delivered in Scotland's capital city today to highlight the issue as a team of "Dairy Godmothers" turned milkies for 300 homes.
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