NFU South West dairy board chairman Mark Oliver, who has farmed in Cornwall for the last 11 years, has been a spokesman for the area’s dairy farmers throughout the crisis, but said he had finally made the tough decision to sell his 370 Holstein Freisian cows.

Mr Oliver has seen the value of his milk cheque fall by £5,000 a week.

He said: “I will not be the last person to quit the sector following the milk price cuts, which have hammered the sector in recent months

“I am fed up of all the hassle and the hard work for no return.

“At the minute it is bleak. It is going to fundamentally change the sector and I am not sure where it is going.

“People are losing a lot of money, investments are being cancelled and jobs are being lost. Some are gong to the banks and extending their overdrafts but others are questioning their future.”

Mr Olver blamed retailers for “continually sqeezing suppliers”.

He said: “Globally there is not much we can do to change the supply and demand situation but retailers do need to take responsibility. If you are selling four pints of milk for 89p it is going to be hard for dairy farmers to make a living.”

Mr Oliver said the Government could do more to ease the crisis, saying opening up export markets would give the industry a boost.