Nationally recognised dairy activist, an apparently tireless campaigner in all weathers,  Andrew Hemming, of Obelisk Farm Hockley Heath, passed away suddenly on Saturday and will be sadly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.

He was vice-chairman of Farmers for Action and Central Warwickshire NFU chairman.

The writer, who knew him for years, found the best way to get hold of him was to ring his mobile before 9am during morning milking, though the sound of work in progress – swishing and clanking – hampered reception.

We attended the 2005 Annual and Special Meeting of Midlands Co-operative Society in Birmingham with members of the Heart of England Farmers’ Co-operative, which supplied 92% of the Dairy’s milk, after hearing rumours about the future of the Dairy. Five days later all were stunned to hear that it was to be taken over by Dairy Crest. Staff at the processing, bottling and packing plant lost their jobs and there were considerable losses to their local economies, including serious damage to the transport firms who had served the Dairy for many years.

andrew waitrose award

Two years later he nominated Waitrose for a Fair Deal award as they were the first supermarket to respond to the crisis that has been facing dairy farmers for the past ten years. Pictured in Hall Green, Birmingham.

Earlier this year we met West Midlands MEP, Phillip Bennion, at the Hemming farm and had a long, informative discussion about the problems facing underpaid dairy farmers, reported on the website of the Fair Deal Food Campaign.

The last time many will have seen him was on today’s BBC TV Sunday Politics Show, during the regional roundup, when he spoke about a demonstration in Droitwich.

His work will not be finished until we can all put fairly traded milk in our Fairtrade coffee.