Muller has postponed the introduction of its proposed new contract by a month, following mixed reactions at nationwide farmer meetings.
The dairy processor will now send out final contract documents in January with the option to sign up being pushed back to February.
The move follows consternation from some Muller producers who had described the contract’s implementation, which include changes to forecasting, constituent contents and bonuses, as tantamount to blackmail.
“At our meetings we have heard a range of strong, considered and sometimes conflicting views on our contract proposals and these have varied regionally,” said Muller Milk & Ingredients agriculture director Lyndsay Chapman.
“We will now take time to review this feedback and will therefore put back the introduction of our new contract offer.”
However, Muller will be pressing ahead with the implementation of its new farmer representative body, the Muller Milk Group (MMG) Farmer Forum, “as soon as possible”.
Nomination forms will be sent out shortly for those interested in being on the new 21-member board, 10 of which will be non-aligned producers (including one organic).
“We are encouraged that the company will now reflect on the views expressed by Muller farmers across the country on the milk contract,” said chairman of the interim Muller Milk Group board, Roddy Catto.
“There is agreement that change is required and that old models should be reviewed.
“We will work with Muller to ensure the views that have been expressed are considered and acted upon.”
Milk price rise
The announcement was made in conjunction with a standard non-aligned milk price rise of 2.5p/litre from 1 January.
The rise will pay Muller’s 1,900 producers, including 650 from the Direct Milk DPO 26.54p/litre.
This includes a 1.1p/litre retailer supplement paid by Aldi, Lidl and Morrisons, which has fallen from 3p/litre in August as dairy markets have strengthened.