Dairy Farmers of Britain ‘£100m in debt’

Dairy Farmers of Britain is reported to owe more than £100m to lenders.

The figure was revealed on Saturday (6 June) at a meeting in Stoke between receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers and over 150 midlands dairy farmers who had been supplying the failed co-op.

A breakdown of the financial implications of the collapse of DFB will be provided on 7 September at a meeting scheduled by PWC.

Milk producers at the meeting were vocal about their grievances over the management failings that had led to DFB being placed into administration,

They accused the co-op’s hierarchy of treating producers with contempt and of continuing to take milk when they knew it would not be paid for.

Talk about the demise of DFoB with other producers on our forums

Read Phil Clarke’s Business Blog on how the banks should treat DFoB

Chairman of the DFB member’s council, Stephen Yates, was told by members that farmers had continued to support the co-op while it must have been clear to the management that the financial crisis was on a collision course.

Addressing Mr Yates, one farmer said DFB had asked for support and farmers had given it.

They had been told not to waver and to stick together; in particular, to enable milk collections to continue for all members despite their geographical locations.

Farmers demanded an explanation from Mr Yates about the continued collection of milk from farms during May when the co-op must have been aware that it had no money to pay for it.

Mr Yates said there had been no delay in making the announcement and that it was better to have made it last week than wait until 15 June.

While Milk Link’s acquisition of the Llandyrnog factory in north Wales was already enabling some Cheshire and midlands DFB members to secure new contracts, the loss of the May milk cheque had dealt a severe blow to many family farms.

Cheshire dairy farmer Stuart Yarwood, who runs 370 cows at Sandbach, and had been supplying DFB with 3m litres a year, said the co-op’s demise had wiped out a year’s profitability for every dairy farmer affected.

“We’ve all continued to support DFB when it’s now clear that the co-op was not supporting us and has led us, knowingly, into this catastrophe that will have major financial and social implications for the dairy sector.”

DFoB member? Distressed or troubled about what the news might mean for your business? Don’t suffer in silence – www.farmcrisisnetwork.org.uk