Bute dairy farmers’ plight to be raised at Holyrood

The price paid to Bute's dairy farmers by co-operative First Milk has fallen by 14 pence per litre to just 18.5 pence per litre since June 1, 2014.
The price paid to Bute's dairy farmers by co-operative First Milk has fallen by 14 pence per litre to just 18.5 pence per litre since June 1, 2014.

Concern at another cut in the price paid to Bute’s dairy farmers for their milk will be raised in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell will ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to help dairy farmers contracted to First Milk, who were notified at the weekend of a further reduction in price and the postponement of payments due.

The latest price cut by First Milk - the co-operative of which all Bute’s dairy farmers are members - takes the price paid to the island’s 13 remaining dairy farmers down to 18.5 pence per litre, a fall of 14p per litre in the space of less than eight months.

Bute’s dairy farmers produced 15.4 million litres of milk in the year to March 31, 2014.

First Milk also told its members that payments due on Monday would be deferred for a fortnight.

Mr Russell said: “I have been contacted by a number of dairy farmers over the past few months who are in grave difficulty but developments in the last few days have made their situation even worse.

“There is an overall problem in the dairy industry with an over supply of milk internationally but for First Milk contracted supplier things are even worse The price they are getting has fallen by 14 pence per litre since June 1, which has resulted in more than £6 million coming out of the Argyll and Bute rural economy.

“This loss is clearly not sustainable and if the situation is not rectified then dairy farming in Bute and Kintyre, where 51 farmers have First Milk contracts, will be a thing of the past.

“I know that [environment minister] Richard Lochhead is very concerned about the problem but this weekend’s developments including todays postponement of payments due for a further fortnight have created a full blown crisis and those contracted to First Milk need help as a matter of urgency.”