‘Behind the scenes’ activity softens milk price cut

Robert Wiseman Dairies has cut its ex-farm milk price, but by less than some had expected.

Suppliers to the Glasgow-based processor will receive 0.65p/litre less from the beginning of March.

It is believed that Wiseman wanted to cut more, but behind-the-scenes pressure from a farming organisation forced a rethink.

Pete Nicholson, the firm’s director of milk procurement, said: “This reduction is made up of 0.35p/litre in respect of a weakening in bulk cream returns and 0.3p/litre reflecting the need for us to narrow the gap between our price and that of our competitors.”

NFU Scotland described the price cut as a slap in the face for producers and had little time for Wiseman’s claims that it paid more than most other milk buyers.

Milk committee chairman Willie Lamont said:

“Recent company statements from certain retailers and processors that boast about paying farmers a milk price of just above 19p/litre ring hollow when the true cost of production – taking into account the increase in fuel and fertiliser prices this year – is easily above 19p/litre.

“Similarly, comparing one company’s farm-gate price against another means little when the reality is that a bad milk price is a bad milk price.”

NFU dairy board chairman Gwyn Jones said:

“Wiseman now seems to be vying with Arla to transfer funds from beleaguered dairy farmers into retailers’ bank accounts.

They may claim not to be backdating, but to me cutting 0.65p/litre is the same thing.”