MILK LINK has become the latest dairy processor to allow its producers a freer hand to go over quota without forfeiting milk cheques.

The co-op is reacting to December‘s milk delivery figures, which saw the UK fall even further below national quota, making the chances of over-producing and incurring the European superlevy fine more remote.

Last week the Charles Holt/Farmers Weekly butterfat-adjusted profile put overall milk production so far this year at 215m litres below national quota, with nine weeks to go.

A spokesman for co-op First Milk said: “We‘ve been watching the RPA figures closely, and surmise that the likelihood of fulfilling quota is reduced. We have reviewed our policy and decided to remove our threshold.”

Dairy Crest is also raising the threshold for payments, by telling producers they will receive cheques on deliveries up to 125% of quota.

Company secretary Michael Martin said it was simply a nominal figure to avoid the prospect of unlimited production.

Dairy Farmers of Britain has reacted more cautiously, raising the trading allowance from 4% over quota to 8%.

And Arla Foods Milk Partnership told its direct suppliers at the start of January that their allowance had been raised from 5% over quota to 10%.

But they have all warned farmers not to indulge in a spring frenzy of milk production unless they wanted a repeat of the 2002 “disaster”, which saw production leap over quota in the closing weeks of the milk year, incurring large fines.