Devastated dairy farmer ditches 75,000 litres of milk

A Scottish dairy farmer has been forced to dump 75,000 litres of raw milk after snow drifts blocked routes for collection tankers, Farmers Weekly can reveal.

As temperatures plunged as low as -9C paralysing road networks and cutting off farms the producer had no choice but to ditch milk worth £23,000. 

See also: Farmers shoulder cost of milk lost in bad weather

The dairy farmer said the experience had been devastating for everyone involved.

“It’s been very difficult for the farm and everyone here who work so hard to keep our herd in the best shape possible.

“To carry on milking three times daily in such adverse weather and ensure all the cows and calves are safe and dry and then to have to discard the milk has been very disheartening for our staff,” the producer told Farmers Weekly.

“Our processor did try and get through to us but were turned back by police on Thursday [1 March] as the conditions were too bad.”

The farmer added the farm would just have to keep going and work harder to shoulder the costs of the losses brought about by the adverse weather.

A milk tanker managed to get through to the farm on Friday (2 March), after the farmer plotted a new route and their team of staff cleared roads with their own plough.

What to consider when buying insurance for your milk

With many processors placing responsibility on producers to shoulder the cost of uncollected milk, Farmers and Mercantile branch manager Matt McWhirter estimates that only about 30% of producers would have insurance to cover the costs of wasted milk. He explains what to consider when looking at purchasing insurance for uncollectable milk:

  • Be aware of what cover you already have. There are two types of cover for milk losses, which are often sold separately. There is cover for milk lost through contamination, which is usually a separate package to coverage for uncollected milk due to things such as bad weather.
  • Producers should calculate how much cover they need. Policies can be bought to cover a number of days or litres, with most producers with cover opting to protect themselves against one to two days without collection.
  • Consider geographical factors. For some producers, coverage should be a no brainer – but if farmers aren’t in high-risk areas or somewhere that experiences the extreme cold often then insurance is likely not for them. We have not seen a weather event comparable to this for 20 years so producers should think whether this is a risk they want to carry themselves or not.
  • Many policies are renewed in the summer when bad weather seems a long way away – it is crucial to look ahead and plan for winter.
  • Bolt-ons to standard cover start from about £75 and increase depending on how many day’s milk is included and the size of your bulk tank.
  • Payouts are usually based on the day’s previous milk delivery and subject to an excess amount.
  • Most insurance companies use an exclusion period after the add-on is bought during which no claims can be made. The period can range from seven days to up to a month.
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