26 June 1998

Milk federation calls growing

GROWING pressure for a functional national federation of milk producer groups was addressed at a recent meeting in Warwickshire.

It follows an initial gathering in Cheshire last month and was organised by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers and the NFU.

A joint RABDF/NFU statement said the meeting was staged to "discuss the problems and opportunities faced by milk producers groups. We have agreed to set up a small working group to consider means of further co-operation."

Cheshire dairy farmer Keith Holland, chairman of the countys milk committee and a prime mover behind the concept, said around 30 groups were represented. "I think dairy farmers will be pleased to see that something is being done in a constructive way on this issue."

Tewkesbury dairy farmer Frank Dukes, a member of the management committee of the Severn Vale milk group, was also at the meeting. "Its a great idea that milk groups should come together in this type of organisation. I hope it will make progress quickly to achieve a smaller number of milk groups; to have nearly 50 in operation is an expense the industry can do without."

&#8226 Torridge Vale, the 46-member Devon milk co-op, has started refurbishment work on the part of the former Dairy Crest plant at Torrington which it now owns.

It will be used to make regionally branded products such as Devon clotted cream.

Substantial grants have been obtained from the South West Objective 5b programme towards the total cost, which is expected to be almost £1.8m. The ministry will contribute about £470,000, and a further £480,000 will come from the European Guarantee and Guidance Fund. A visitor centre at the Torrington plant is also planned.