‘Go to the Supermarket’: COVID Cops Threaten Families With Fines for Buying Farm Stand Milk

BALFRON, SCOTLAND - MARCH 16: Stewart Johnstone tends to Holstein cows as they are milked at Clayland farm on March 16, 2016 in Balfron, Scotland. Many farmers across the country are voicing concerns that Brexit could be a dangerous step into the unknown for the farming industry. (Photo by Jeff …
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British police reportedly threatened to fine families for buying milk from a farm stand and told patrons to take their business to supermarkets in order to keep in line with coronavirus restrictions.

Police told families last week attempting to buy milk from a vending machine in Trelogan, Wales, that they would be fined unless they immediately left the farmstand, with officers claiming people should purchase “essential” products from supermarkets or shops.

At the time of the police action, some five households were present at the farmstand to stock up on fresh milk.

After receiving complaints from her customers about the threats from the police, farmer Elliw Jones told North Wales Live that she phoned the lead officer, who informed her that the customers should take “their weekly shop in a supermarket or nearest shop”.

“He said they should get their milk from there,” Mrs Jones said.

“I feel the police should be working with us as a new business and not driving all our customers to supermarkets,” she said.

“Are they standing outside butchers shops telling people they should buy their steaks from Tesco? Are they standing at the entrance to Tesco checking where their customers are from?” she questioned.

Farm-fresh milk vending machines are a relatively new development in British agriculture which help farmers bypass the profit-scooping middlemen — supermarkets — and reach consumers directly. This is a matter of survival for some farmers — supermarkets have been so effective in hard bargaining with milk cooperatives and distributors, farm-gate prices for milk paid to the producers themselves have dipped below the cost-per-pint actually needed to keep the cows alive.

Not only do the increasingly common milk sheds prevent farmers from being sell their whole yeild at a loss to supermarkets — practically the only other buyer available, in many cases — they also dispense the milk directly into re-usable glass bottles with metal tops as well, reducing the use of plastics.

The Trelogan farmstand opened on New Year’s Day. The site consists of four cashless vending machines that offer milk, cheese, eggs, milkshakes, coffee, and hot chocolate.

The farm owners said that many of their customers prefer to visit their stand than supermarkets because it is less crowded and has an open-air layout.

A mother-of-three said she had gone to the farmstand to buy full-fat milk for her disabled son, who requires it for his dietary needs. Despite explaining this to the police officers, she was still told to leave or face a £60 fine.

“I was very angry at the situation but I left because I didn’t want the fine,” the mother said.

Following the incident, a spokesman for the North Wales Police confirmed milk is an “essential item”.

“We are aware of the farm and that it is working with Flintshire County Council to ensure they are Covid compliant around queuing and social distancing,” the police force added.

Wales has seen some of the most draconian restrictions in the UK during the coronavirus crisis, with the local government banning supermarkets from selling “non-essential” items in October. The Welsh government later banned supermarkets from selling toys during the Christmas season.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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