Dairy farmers on the Isle of Wight have joined forces to persuade supermarkets to stock more milk and dairy products produced and processed on the island.
The campaign, called “I love Isle of Wight milk”, was triggered by the national protests in London last month, when Andrew Turner, Conservative MP for the island, offered his support.
“We only process about 20% of our own milk on the island – the rest goes the mainland and passes other milk which is being brought back over,” said Justin Birch, who milks 300 cows near Shalfleet. “It’s crazy.”
“Morrisons and Waitrose want to talk to us about introducing a line of Isle of Wight milk, so there is a really good feeling that this could work. We can then be more in control of our destiny and get a more sensible price for our milk.”
Justin Birth, dairy farmer
The number of dairy farmers on the island had fallen from more than 300 in the 1960s to just 15 now, and being surrounded by water meant costs of production were about 1.5p/litre higher than on the mainland, said Mr Birch. “However, being a small island makes us unique, and we should be using it to our advantage.
“There is already enough processing capacity on the island, but Tesco is the only supermarket that stocks Isle of Wight milk.” The island’s farmers produce 20m litres of milk a year, with total consumption of 35m litres. And the campaign, launched at last weekend’s Garlic Festival, has already generated considerable support, with 800 people signing the farmers’ petition.
“People were really positive, and said they would prefer to buy Isle of Wight milk and would happily pay more for it,” said Mr Birch. “Morrisons and Waitrose want to talk to us about introducing a line of Isle of Wight milk, so there is a really good feeling that this could work. We can then be more in control of our destiny and get a more sensible price for our milk.”
See our milk price cuts crisis page