8 June 2001

Co-op promoters on the move again

CO-OP enthusiasts are back on the road, persuading dairy colleagues who supply processors direct to join farmer-controlled businesses to secure better prices for milk.

The Association of Milk Producers, which represents about 1000 farmers producing 1.2bn litres of milk a year in the Midlands and Wales, held three meetings this week, three months later than planned.

In February, representatives of the 12 direct supply groups belonging to the AMP voted to terminate their contracts with processors and join the Milk Group instead.

Foot-and-mouth broke out days later, putting paid to plans to hold a series of meetings to push the message to the general membership.

Despite that, AMP chairman, Bev Baker reckons five groups supplying Dairy Crest, more than 200 producers, have resigned their contracts, as have a large number of Dairy Crest Unigate Business Deal suppliers.

"We have also picked up some Dansco, Golden Vale and ACC suppliers."

Bryan Lewens, manager of West Country Milk Producers, hopes to restart recruitment presentations from the end of this month. WMP represents six groups totalling 780 dairy farmers sending 500m litres of milk a year to Dairy Crest and Glanbia.

He says 120 of his members, mostly supplying the Davidstow cheese factory, have given notice to Dairy Crest.

In March, group representatives advised their members to join southern co-op Milk Link. WMP and Milk Link are finalising details of a package to put to producers, says Mr Lewens.

In the north, several hundred members of the 1500-strong Association of Dairy Farmers are also reported to have resigned from direct supply contracts with Arla, Lancs Dairies, Express, Glanbia Dairy Crest and ACC. &#42