BCC to First Milk: Why are Bute farmers are facing ‘discriminatory charges’?

Bute Community Council is to write to First Milk to ask why Bute farmers are facing 'discriminatory charges' over the cost of milk production.
Bute Community Council is to write to First Milk to ask why Bute farmers are facing 'discriminatory charges' over the cost of milk production.

Bute Community Council are to write to First Milk to ask why Bute farmers are being faced with “discriminatory charges”.

At BCC’s May meeting on Wednesday evening in Kingarth Hotel, Councillor Robert Macintyre - who is one of the island’s 13 dairy farmers - was in a meeting elsewhere in the hotel with First Milk representatives to discuss the company’s decision to cut the price it pays to Bute’s dairy farmers by 1.2 pence for a litre of milk from June 1.

The cut is six times that which will be imposed on First Milk members on the Scottish mainland from the same date - with the company blaming the Bute decision on the additional cost of transporting the island’s milk to processing facilities elsewhere.

In Cllr Macintyre’s report, which was handed to the council to be read out in his absence, he stated: “The price for milk last year in May 2014 was 32p a litre. The price this year is 16p per litre. We are now getting the lowest price for our milk since 1993.

“The 13 milk producers on Bute produce 15 million litres of milk per year. This price equates to £2.5m pounds of the income from these 13 producers. Thus all in all, a loss making situation.

“There will be no investment of any description - it will be a case of trying to survive.”

Councillor Len Scoullar commented: “Our farmers are in a disastrous situation”, while Councillor Isobel Strong said: “They [First Milk] should be evening out the cost of transport, but are instead charging less-favoured areas more”. Councillor Strong suggested that BCC write to First Milk with their concerns and to ask why Bute was facing “discriminatory charges”, which it was agreed the community council would do.