Holyrood recalls milk chiefs over new Bute price cut

Dairy farmers on Bute will be hit with a further price cut of 1.2 pence per litre from June 1.
Dairy farmers on Bute will be hit with a further price cut of 1.2 pence per litre from June 1.

The Scottish Parliament’s rural affairs committee is to summon bosses from First Milk back to Holyrood to quiz them on the company’s ‘turnaround plan’ - and in particular on its implications for Bute.

First Milk management gave evidence to the committee earlier this year as part of an inquiry into the effect of falling milk prices.

But Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell, who sits on the committee, has asked for the company’s chairman, Sir Jim Paice MP, and new chief executive Mike Gallagher to be called before the committee to answer questions on the plan - which will see Bute’s dairy farmers singled out for a 1.2 pence per litre price cut from June 1 due to transport costs.

Mr Russell said: “There is huge anger on Bute at the decision of their own co-operative to penalise the dairy farmers of that island with an additional one penny per litre price cut over and above the 0.2 cut being imposed across Scotland, but not in some other areas of the UK.

“Members of the rural affairs committee were unanimous in their view that this new development necessitated a recall of First Milk, who gave evidence to the Committee’s dairy inquiry on January 28, given that the price being paid before this latest cut was still well below the cost of production.

“In addition the committee has previously called for assistance with transportation costs for Bute dairy farmers and the ‘turnaround’ plan seems to cynically take advantage of any concession that might still be made.

“I believe the chair and CEO of First Milk have a great deal of explaining to do, and the Scottish Parliament Rural Affairs Committee is keen to hear from them as soon as possible.

“Such a public session will also allow the Bute dairy farmers themselves to hear at first hand why the company has behaved in this destructive and damaging way.”

* More reaction to First Milk’s price cut announcement in this week’s issue of The Buteman - on sale from Thursday, May 7.