22 May 1998

Welsh producers visited after alleged over-quota milk sale

By Robert Davies

A SOLICITOR representing the Intervention Board has confirmed that 20 south Wales milk producers have been contacted regarding the alleged sale of over-quota milk.

But Jane Widgery refused to confirm or deny claims that more than £5m in super-levy and penalties is involved, or to comment on the position of the buying company, Elm Dairies, Carmarthenshire.

The two Welsh farming unions have been informed that Intervention Board representatives took the unusual step of visiting individual producers personally this week, to serve requests for payment by Aug 28 of sums ranging between £100,000 and £925,000.

An NFU spokesman also confirmed that at a meeting with the buyers legal representatives it was alleged that a loophole in EU quota regulations, meant the board could not claim levy or fines when farms sold more than the volume of milk their production quota allowed.

Peter Davies, Carmarthenshire FUW executive officer, said some of those involved claimed to be ready to fight the case all the way to the European Court. While he could not comment on the allegations, the FUW believed that in the interests of all producers quota law must be respected throughout the EU.

"We are very concerned that if demands are made which producers cannot pay farms could be sold up dragging down land prices."

farmers weekly was unable to contact Hugh Phillips, chief executive of Elm Dairies, one of a group of associated companies that includes Elm Farms, which went into liquidation earlier this year. &#42