CHESHIRE is no longer the land of 'milk and honey' for farmers, who say they are not getting a fair price for their produce.
The Milk Development Council (MDC) revealed earlier this month that a March increase of 3.5p in the price retailers pay for a litre of liquid milk had not filtered down to producers.
Dairy farmers have taken up direct action picketing at milk processors across the county and they say that if the situation does not improve more of them will forced out of business.
Andrew Scott is a dairy farmer in Burwardsley and despite expanding his own operation, he claims the industry in general is in difficulty.
He said: 'The perception is that Cheshire is the land of milk and honey but the cost of living here is much higher than in other areas of the country.
'The price of milk now is lower than it was in 1984 but we are still not being rewarded for our efficiency.'
Mr Scott is no longer actively involved in direct action because it was having a negative effect on his business, but he sympathises with those that are. He said: 'That is the way the industry base is being driven. When your back is against the wall sometimes you have no choice.'
Roger Briscoe, at Dodleston House Farm in Huxley, said: 'All our costs have gone up but we're not getting that much for the milk.
'The suppliers and the supermarkets are blaming each other. Somehow they should've made sure that the money from the increase in March went straight to the producers.'
Mr Briscoe says that apart from the foot and mouth crisis in 2001, the last two years have been the most difficult he has known and that he would not force his own children into farming.
He added: 'At the moment I'm working a 13 hour day seven days a week. It can't carry on like it is. We're not making enough money to keep us going.'
Phil Hodgson, who has a dairy farm near Tarporley, has taken the advice of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to 'adapt or die' by agreeing to have wind turbines built on his premises.
He said: 'Having the wind farm on my land would be the best way to ensure our future as a dairy farm.
'Obviously the supermarkets are in competition with each other which is forcing prices down, but the people who suffer at the end of the day are the producers.'
A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium said: 'The problem is that dairy industry has a complicated supply chain and there is no way we can ensure that the increase goes to the dairy farmer at the bottom of the chain.' firstname.lastname@example.org