Scottish dairy farmers slam low milk prices
SCOTTISH dairy farmers converged on Paisley, near Glasgow, this week to leave milk buyers in no doubt that current low prices cannot be sustained.
The action, which involved about 350 producers, was organised by the Scottish NFU to coincide with a meeting between union leaders and the Scottish Dairy Association, which represents the countrys milk buyers.
After meeting the SDA on Wednesday, Scottish NFU president, Jim Walker, said he had told the dairy companies that producers were sick of hearing how they wanted to work in partnership with farmers. "We have had lots of talk but no action," he said.
He added that milk buyers were left in no doubt that farmers prices were unsustainable and threatened long-term milk supplies.
Farmers pointed out that prices are set to fall by 1p to about 15p/litre from tomorrow (Apr 1), a stark contrast to supermarket prices, which were often four times as high. And seasonal adjustment could take another 3p off the farm gate price.
No response was available from the SDA before farmers weekly went to press.
A meeting between the union and producers representatives from milk buyers operating in Scotland has been planned for Apr 13.
"We want to see if there is any common ground and if dairy farmers want to work together. If they dont, then there is little that we as a union can do," said Mr Walker.
He believes that the only chance of securing a better milk price is for all producers to join the farmers co-operative Scottish Milk.
The meeting followed an announcement last Friday that the cheese plant on the island of Islay, taken over by eight local milk producers in 1997, is in receivership. Unless a buyer is found, dairy farming on Islay is likely to end because hauling milk to the mainland is estimated to cost more than 4p/litre.
By contrast managers of a north Wales co-operative have pledged to pay its 170 members the maximum possible price for milk.
This will mean South Caernarfon Creameries will pay less in year-end bonuses and will retain less profit for reinvestment, but general manager, Gareth Evans, claims hard pressed producers need immediate help.
Meanwhile, our milk price table shows little change for February deliveries. The only significant reduction is Nestlé, which has reduced constituent prices to equate to a cut of about 0.5p/litre.
As far as new milk year prices are concerned, Unigate is the latest processor to cut prices. Direct suppliers will receive 1.17p/litre less from tomorrow (Apr 1). Bonuses remain unchanged. The price will be reviewed monthly. *