The tussle to recruit the 200 Cumbrian Dairy Crest Direct members whose contracts to supply the Aspatria cheese factory expire this October continues.
Milk Link has made a last-minute attempt to lure the producers to join a direct pool to supply its Lockerbie and Kirkudbright factories.
The dairy co-op has offered the producers, who will not have to become members, a contract equivalent to their existing Dairy Crest deal.
It will also track the Milk Development Council’s milk for cheese value equivalent index (MCVE).
Keen to join
A Milk Link spokesman would only confirm that some farmers had signed contracts, but a source said a group of farmers producing 50m litres seemed keen to join.
The Milk Link spokesman said: “We have real customers and a proven track record.”
But Dutch entrepreneur Ronald Akkerman said he was still confident of signing up most of the farmers to supply his proposed new cheese factory in the county. He said 150m litres had been committed as of today (Wednesday, 14 March).
In a further twist, Mr Akkerman said he was angry that First Milk, which bought Aspatria from Dairy Crest last year, had decided to send letters to DCD members and local bank managers urging caution over his plans.
“I thought that was way off the mark,” he said.