First Milk to pay for milk lost during big freeze

First Milk is to pay compensation to members whose milk went uncollected during the freezing weather.

Members will be compensated at the same price per litre as they received for any milk which did get collected during the relevant month.

First Milk members in west Wales and Ayrshire were worst affected in the snow which hit the UK in December and January.

But First Milk has advised members that, from 1 February 2010, the business will no longer pay compensation for milk lost to bad weather. Instead officials suggested farmers should consider taking out insurance.

Meanwhile Dairy Crest and its suppliers in Wales are at odds over compensation. The company said that it was yet to consider claims.

But milk producers said company officials had given assurances they would be reimbursed for milk that was dumped.

Carmarthenshire producer Simon Davies lost £3500 worth of milk when the tanker failed to turn up for two-and-a-half days even though there was no snow on the ground.

“Apparently there were issues with tankers breaking down and with drivers not exceeding the number of hours they were permitted to drive during a given period,” said Mr Davies, of Brynhyfryd Farm, Hermon, whose milk is usually collected every other day.

He had milk from eight milkings in the tank when he was told to pull the plug on 14,000 litres.

Like many farmers Mr Davies was anxious about compensation, particularly as he had already suffered losses as a Dairy Farmers of Britain producer. But he said producers were told last week to submit claims and that these would be paid.

“It seems that there was a particular problem in this area because of the distance involved in getting our milk to Bristol,” he told Farmers Weekly.

However, Dairy Crest’s group milk procurement director, Mark Taylor, said no decision had yet been taken over claims. “If we think there are grounds to pursue our haulier for not fulfilling contractual terms we will be looking to challenge them on that,” he said. “We have only asked our members to supply specific details in order to be able get a better understanding of what has happened in individual cases.”