The companies likely to benefit from these milk moves are understood to be Lactalis at Stranraer, Graham’s at Bridge of Allan and Yew Tree, in Lancashire.
First Milk’s communications director Paul Flanagan told The Scottish Farmer: “These resignations were all put in last year when the milk price was much lower and we were only part way through our turnaround programme. We are now a simpler, more focused and stable business and have only received three resignations across Scotland this year.
“Buying and selling milk is something that we’ve always done,” he added. “We constantly look for both trading opportunities and long term customer relationships that benefit the price we pay to members.”
The majority of those going are from north Ayrshire, and include former co-op vice-chairman Tom Campbell. From West Kilbride. Contacted for comment, Mr Campbell, who is now a member of the Land Court, said he had “no comment on the subject”.
NFU Scotland’s milk committee chairman James Rankin is also leaving. He said: “We produce high quality Ayrshire milk and we are keen to re-introduce the Ayrshire brand which used to feature on the shelves of Marks and Spencer before they dropped it. I’m not prepared to say at this stage which buyer we have in mind.”
Another Ayrshire farmer who asked to remain anonymous said: “I’ve signed with Yew Tree who are set to pay 34p from September. This compares with my current 26.5p from First Milk.
“I’ve been with First Milk since day one but had to move. Apart from the price, my shares are worthless. With Yew Tree there is no smoke and mirrors. Everyone is paid the same whether they produce 10,000 litres or 1000 litres.”
Yew Tree boos Carl Woodcock has issued his producers with a September forecast which shows a minimum standard litre price of 33ppl at 4% fat, 3.3% protein, minus 1.7p for haulage, and 34.5p minimum at 4.2%fat, 3.4% protein, once again minus the 1.7p haulage.
One of first farmers to join First Milk on the demise of the old SMMB, Tom Reid from Burrowland, Kilmarnock, said: “First Milk’s price has been creeping up too slowly and along with my son John we have decided to move on. It could be Yew Tree but we’ve not put pen to paper yet.”
Apparently there is also unrest among some of the Muller producers on its once-coveted supermarket contracts, as the company’s latest rise for its direct producers has taken their standard litre to 30p from October, above the retailer deals.
But industry pundit Ian Potter described their call as the “most jaw dropping farmer moan I have ever encountered”.
He added: “The moaning aligned farmers are jokers and I suggest they immediately resign their aligned contract if they are so unhappy.”
Source: The Scottish Farmer