Milk­ing the ben­e­fits of co-op­er­a­tive mem­ber­ship

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - COUNTRYSIDE -

Sharon Lip­trott

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.”

Co-op­er­at­ing

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