8 December 2000

Milk group cuts Express tie-up

MEMBERS of the Cheshire-based milk group Waterford Farmers Association have voted to terminate their contracts with Express Dairies and will now supply Scottish Milk.

The associations chairman Tony Garnett, who farms at Knutsford, said: "Milk is being imported into the UK from Ireland for Express Dairies at around 23p/litre. The spot price is now around 28p and yet the Express Milk Partnership could only negotiate 18.5p for its members."

Waterford Farmers Association has 130 members producing over 100m litres of milk.

Mr Garnett said the association would welcome any producers who wished to join them, especially others supplying Express Dairies.

Although members of Express Milk Partnership have showed the most public dissatisfaction, several producers supplying all the main dairies have told Farmers Weekly that they, too, have had enough.

Widespread discontent is evident among northern dairy farmers. The most common complaint is managements unwillingness to accept the need for significant price rises.

Unlessdairies support sustainable milk production, producers say they will take whatever action is necessary to stay in business.

That could mean wholesale resignations and signing up with much bigger farmer-owned groups and possibly supplying other buyers.

&#8226 Farmer-controlled co-op Zeniths Chris Bird has denied rumours that it has had to call force majeure on some contracts because of inadequate milk supplies.

But he did confirm that Zeniths supplies were below expectations and that it was importing milk from Northern Ireland at the request of some customers.

"It is only a short-term solution and there will be no cost to members at all," he stressed. &#42