Milking the benefits of co-operative membership
Hard-working David Hyslop says that for him and his sons, dairy farming has never been so good.
He is one of 2,400 UK farmers – around 100 in Dumfriesshire – who belong to the Arla dairy co-operative.
And it has helped him to recently buy a second farm with the aim of extending his Holstein Friesian herd and embrace new technology for extra efficiency and selfsufficiency.
Not to mention the pleasure he gets from seeing milk produced from his cows being used in dairy products at home and abroad.
Plus there is a lofty weight off his mind about his sons’ future and generations to come.
The dairy industry has been hit hard with many farms closing in Dumfries and Galloway and an almost constant battle to survive low milk prices – blamed on supermarkets.
David says he is one of the lucky ones.
He grew up on the family farm at Gillrigg, Parkgate near Dumfries and in 1977 took on his own farm, Meinside, near Eaglesfield.
The 61-year-old – who has been joined in the business by his sons, David and Martin – joined Arla 12 years ago “for piece of mind”.
The dairy co-operative dates back to the 1880s when farmers in Denmark and Sweden joined forces to produce and provide the best products and create new opportunities for business growth.
Dumfriesshire dairy farmer David Hyslop says joining the Arla co-operative is guaranteeing a future in the industry for his sons.
Arla is owned by 12,000 dairy farmers across Europe and milk produced by their cows go into 10,000 different products sold in 120 countries and consumed by more than one billion people.
All profits go back to the farm owners who get to take an active part in deciding how Arla grows and develops the business.
David said: “I am proud to be an Arla farmer. We are working together to create a sustainable long term future for the dairy industry. We aim to secure the highest value for our milk and are supported to take on new opportunities for growth so we can remain stable during local economic changes.”
It has given him the financial security for a major investment which saw him buy Brydekirk Mains Farm in the spring, which pushes his land for farming to 800 acres and he plans to increase his 370 cows – each producing 10,000 litres of milk a year – to 500.
David said: “It is a huge investment for us but it will secure the future of our diary farm for my sons and future generations.
“The dairy farming industry has taken a huge knock in recent years but I am glad to be an Arla farmer. It’s good to be part of a large European co-operative. It gives us security and strength and where else would I get the chance to get shares and have an equal say in what’s going on?”
Arla is home to some of the UK’s leading dairy brands and supplies a range of fresh dairy products to major retailers and food service customers. It is the UK’s number one dairy company and largest supplier of butter, spreads and cheeses – including Cravendale, Anchor and Lurpak.
Milk produced by David’s cows goes to the Arla factory in Lockerbie for processing and distribution.
David said: “There is a sense of pride that milk from my cows goes into such everyday household brands and so many different products including cream and yoghurt too. There is also added value products too as even the whey goes to Denmark for special protein products for athletes and the elderly.
“It is a huge opportunity for south-west Scotland to be part of this dairy cooperative.”
David also enjoys the environmental ethos of Arla and it has encouraged him to invest in biomass sustainability.
He has purchased a mega watt boiler that dries woodchip and slurry separate which can be used for bedding for the cows. It means he doesn’t have the expense of sawdust and straw over winter.
Also the dried woodchip helps supply the fuel to power two new combined heat and power units. This new technology also cuts costs by providing electricity for the farm with any extra going to the National Grid and bringing in extra income.
And David knows exactly why his cows are doing so well: “It has to be the amount of rainfall we get in this area. It helps produce a lot of grass and that feeds our cows and keeps them happy and healthy.”