1 March 2002

Dairys culture of enterprise earns peers high praise

By John Burns South-west correspondent

A FARMER-OWNED cheese dairy in Cornwall attracted praise from Lord Haskins when he officially opened it this week.

The peer called it a "classic example" of what skilled, enterprising farmers could do. "This is the future of farming and its very exciting. I have always talked about the need for a culture of enterprise and not a culture of dependency. What we have seen today is in the true spirit of enterprise."

Pengreep Dairy was built on a greenfield site on Ben and Catherine Meads farm at Ponsonooth, near Truro, and cost over £500,000. Further development over the next six years is likely to cost a further £280,000.

A grant of £310,000 from the Objective 1 fund, split between Brussels and the government, covered 40% of the set-up and development costs.

The dairy will expand output of nettle leaf-wrapped Yarg cheese, wrapped in nettle leaves, which had been produced exclusively by Michael and Margaret Horrells Lyhner Farms and Dairy at Netherton, Cornwall.

Both dairies will remain financially independent, but new firm Lynher Dairies Cheese Company will market combined cheese production.

Netherton produces about 130t of cheese and the 10-year target for the combined dairies is 300t. That will require an extra 1.2m litres of milk/year, which will earn local farms supplying it a significant premium for high- fat, high-protein milk.

Farmer-owned co-op Milk Link, which has loaned the project £100,000, will work with local farms to supply milk suited to cheese production. The co-op will also provide technical advice and support.

The dairy has already created six new jobs, with another four to come. &#42

Ben and Catherine Mead showed Lord Haskins (centre) a thing or two about cheese this week.