Union puts Bute dairy fears to Scottish Secretary

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and local MP Alan Reid pictured with Kintyre dairy farmers on a visit to Machrihanish.
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and local MP Alan Reid pictured with Kintyre dairy farmers on a visit to Machrihanish.

The crisis facing dairy farmers in Bute, Kintyre and Gigha was spelled out to the Secretary of State for Scotland at a meeting in Kintyre this week.

Alistair Carmichael met producers at Machrihanish Farm to hear details of the increasingly difficult situation faced by farmers in the area, who have little choice but to continue supplying First Milk, the co-operative of which they are all members, which has cut milk prices and introduced higher capital investment charges.

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.

“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.”