By Farmers Weekly staff
SIGNS appeared this week that relations between direct milk suppliers and dairies may be souring as “Milk Marque plus” premiums come under pressure.
Members of the Dairy Crest Producers Association say they were disappointed to be told by Dairy Crest that it will pay no more for direct supplies than equivalent milk delivered from elsewhere.
High costs within Milk Marque meant that policy, over the past two years at least, ensured a 2ppl premium to the 800 producer members supplying 500m litres of milk a year to Dairy Crest, says David Haine, chairman of the Gloucester branch of the DCPA.
But cost cutting by the three new co-ops means Dairy Crest suppliers are now no better off than other farmers.
“We are below some groups,” says Mr Haine. “We are seriously questioning the point of being tied to a dairy for no commercial gain.”
The DCPA faces three choices, he adds. “We can stick it out because there is an extremely slim chance that Dairy Crest will pay a bit more; we could move to a quota holding group; or form one ourselves.”
It is understood that the DCPA has already held tentative talks with Axis and the Milk Group. No-one from Dairy Crest was available to comment.
But not all direct suppliers are unhappy with their lot. Waitrose has launched a national poster campaign to Back Britains Best, referring to its 85 farmers across the south who meet its tough hygiene, constituent and welfare targets.
Farmers supplying the Select Farm Milk scheme will recieve an ex-farm price of about 19ppl in May.