First Milk's exclusive supply deal for Cumbrian dairy farmers
Last updated at 12:15, Friday, 10 August 2012
Farming co-operative First Milk has launched a new contract exclusively for Cumbrian farmers supplying its Aspatria creamery.
The move comes in the wake of nationwide protests by farmers unhappy with the milk price they are paid.
The co-operative was the first processor to rescind planned price cuts which were due to be imposed on farmers in August.
Its new contract will pay farmers for the weight of butterfat and protein in the milk rather than the industry standard pence per litre method.
While precise details of the new payment formula were not available, First Milk said farmers could earn more for their milk.
It says a farmer producing one million litres annually has the chance to be £20,000 better off if they achieve the high quality milk profile required.
Launched this week, the contract was developed in partnership with a group of First Milk’s Cumbrian members and is optional not compulsory.
First Milk’s membership director Alan Taylor said: “This new contract is a completely different approach for us and one that is unique for the UK dairy industry.
“When producing cheese and whey protein concentrate as we do at the Lake District Creamery, we’re looking for a different profile of milk from farmers than that required for liquid processing.
“It is the protein and butterfat in milk that are important for making cheddar, and the higher the milk quality we receive in terms of protein and butterfat, the less milk is required to make a tonne of cheese which makes the creamery more efficient.”
Many farmers like the Wilson family at Thackwood, near Southwaite, are getting paid less than the cost of production.
The family has put up a huge sign by the M6 motorway to highlight the industry’s plight.
Margaret Wilson says she has had enough of her family taking the hit for supermarkets selling off milk cheaply to get customers through the door.
A quietly spoken farmers’ wife, her anger has bubbled into a fierce energy that is making her take a stand.
“It’s no good sitting on your backside thinking someone else is going to do it for you,” she said.
“We sell our milk to Woodcock Dairies and our price went down by 2p per litre to 27p. It’s all linked to what he can sell it for.
“Our buyer has said the prospect of paying 25p is outrageous.”
Milk prices were relatively buoyant in the 18 months before spring on the back of high fresh cream prices around the world. When the price dropped because of over supply, there was nothing to insulate liquid milk from the low price supermarkets sell it for.
Mrs Wilson added: “Farming is a primary industry and is a foundation on which the Cumbrian economy is built.
“If a foundation crumbles then the building will fall down.”
The family’s protest sign was sponsored by Rickerby Ltd and Carrs Billington, which has also produced a car sticker saying “Who’s Milking Who? No Farmers, No Future”.
First published at 11:26, Friday, 10 August 2012
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk