2015-03-13   facebook twitter rss

Future of Dairy Industry in Kintyre, Gigha and Bute in Doubt

Dairy farmers from Argyll and the Islands have met with Scottish Secretary of State Alistair Carmichael MP in a bid to secure further political support to secure the future of region’s important dairy industry.

The producers met the Secretary of State on farm in Kintyre on Tuesday 11 March where he was accompanied by local MP Alan Reid.

Dairy farmers from Argyll and the Islands

The meeting was held at Macrihanish Farm

The meeting follows up NFU Scotland’s recent dairy lobby of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament at which local producer John Smith, of Drumalea Farm in Kintyre, highlighted the problems being faced by those on the peninsula, as well as Gigha and the Isle of Bute, as they have little option but to continue to supply the co-operative First Milk. First Milk has recently cut milk prices to its members and introduced higher capital investment charges.

At the meeting, Mr Smith was joined by fellow producers Malcolm Ronald, David Barbour and local NFUS branch chairman David Bolt. The farm visit was hosted at Macrihanish Farm by First Milk’s area representative Sandy Pirie.

Providing the politicians with a taste of delicious Mull of Kintyre cheddar, the producers spoke of the need for funds to be release to all investment in Campbeltown Creamery; the potential for loan funding to First Milk to ease the capital contribution burden on its members and subsidised ferry haulage for island producers on Bute and Gigha to allow them to truck vital milk supplies into the Campbeltown Creamery more cost-effectively.

Local producer John Smith said: “The Secretary of State was well briefed on the current dire situation that the whole Scottish dairy industry finds itself in, but for an area like Kintyre, Bute and Gigha, dairy farming is at the heart of the whole rural economy. It merits full support because the impact of failure doesn’t bear thinking about.

“We need Scottish products, like the fantastic Mull of Kintyre cheese we enjoyed today, in the prominent positions on our supermarket shelves, to make it easier for consumers to buy local produce and support Scottish farmers, ensuring that their retail spend stays within Scotland.

“For that to happen, we need vital funding to upgrade the Campbeltown Creamery to be released. At the same time, subsidising the ferry haulage costs associated with getting milk off Bute and Gigha, would get vital supplies into the creamery in a far more cost-effective price, underpinning the viability of the creamery.

“These are exceptional times for the dairy sector in the UK, Europe and further afield. We need UK and Scottish politicians to look seriously at how temporary financial assistance could be provided to a company like First Milk to allow it to get back on its feet. If, through a loan, First Milk found itself able to unwind the increased financial contributions that it is now levying on its members, it would make a serious difference to farm businesses.”

“Dairy farming in Kintyre, Bute and Gigha supports a great number of families and the wider community, as well as a significant number of supporting businesses – not just those engaged in producing a high quality cheese at the creamery, but the many suppliers providing feed, bedding, fertiliser and agricultural supplies. We need a committed approach from politicians at Holyrood and Westminster to help preserve this vital industry in Argyll and the Islands.”

NFUS

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