Farmers hit with ‘hammer blow’ by dairy giant Muller
Fears over future of milk industry as plug pulled on supply contracts
MORE than a dozen Aberdeenshire dairy farmers have been dealt a “hammer blow” after the main milk buyer in the region cancelled their contracts.
Muller delivered termination notices to 14 of its 26 north-east suppliers following a review of its Scottish dairy operations.
It blamed an “unprecedented 25% surge” in Scottish farm milk production for the decision and said it was being forced to transport 180 million litres of excess milk to England for processing every year.
Rob Hutchison, Muller milk supply director, said: “We fully appreciate that these measures will be extremely unwelcome and destabilising for our farmer suppliers, particularly in the north-east of Scotland, but the current situation is unviable and we must act.”
Farm leaders and politicians criticised the move and said it could be “catastrophic”.
However, Roy Mitchell, who milks 350 cows at Drimmies Farm, near Inverurie, remained hopeful about his future last night, and said: “There are other milk buyers in Scotland. I’m quite confident.”
Shadow rural economy secretary Peter Chapman called on the government to intervene, while the NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick, right, said the decision undermined the livelihoods of farmers.
The chief of Scotland’s farming union has accused Muller of undermining the livelihoods of Scottish dairy farmers.
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said the dairy company’s decision to end contracts with 14 Aberdeenshire farmers was “devastating news”.
“The livelihoods and viability of Scottish dairy farmers supplying Muller have been undermined by the outcomes of this review,” he said.
Mr McCornick was also critical of Muller’s plans to introduce a tiered transport charge for all Scottish suppliers from February 2020. This will be calculated based on how much a farmer has expanded their milk production between 2017 and 2019, and will range from 0.25p to 0.85p for every litre produced.
He said: “Given the considerable commitment and investment made by dairy farmers, we now have producers looking to find a new buyer in the next year if they wish to continue milking cows while others, through haulage charges, face a significant cut in income at a time when milk prices are struggling to cover the cost of production.”
He said the union hoped to attend a Muller meeting with farmers next week.
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick