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Union Meets with Kintyre Dairy Farmers to Look at Way Forward

Follow-up after meeting with Argyll contingent last week

NFU Scotland met with hard-pressed dairy farmers from Kintyre this week (Monday, 26 January) to draw up an action plan for those affected by the current dairy crisis.

This followed on from a meeting held last week when dairy farmers from Argyll and the Islands and NFU Scotland met with Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead at the Scottish Parliament.

The dairy industry within Argyll and the Islands is an important economic cornerstone to these isolated communities.  The current crisis affects not only the farming industry, but the wider community and supply chain, impacting both directly and indirectly on jobs within the region as a whole.

The meeting, held in Campbeltown, saw more than 50 local dairy farmers attending.  Representatives from Argyll and Bute Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Argyll and the Islands Agricultural Forum and First Milk also attended.

To safeguard future production, a phased upgrade to Campbeltown Creamery – which produces the famous Mull of Kintyre cheddar – is seen as essential.  Support from the Scottish Government for the work as it progresses was thought to be vital with initial upgrading important to lower production costs and improve efficiency.

The local First Milk liaison group will be expanded, and it is envisaged that this will encompass dairy farmers from Bute too.

An extension to the discount on ferries, which currently exists for hay, straw and livestock, to also include bulk milk for the islands of Bute and Gigha has been raised with Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead.

NFU Scotland will continue to lobby the Scottish Government to take any measures it can to help make Campbeltown Creamery more economical to operate.

The need to have locally–branded Mull of Kintyre cheese being sold once again within local supermarkets was also discussed, and the Union will lobby Tesco and the Co-operative on this matter, as well as pushing for the cheese to be promoted within the export market too.

Later this week farmers from Kintyre and Bute will meet with Councillor Dick Walsh, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council.

NFUS President, Nigel Miller, who attended the meeting in Campbeltown commented:

“The meeting is a step into a wider collaborative effort which has brought in Argyll and Bute Council and HIE to support First Milk as it works with both the Scottish Government and the Argyll forum to secure cheese production and break into new markets.

“Reduced ferry charges could be a further lifeline for island producers as they continue to dig deep, not only to support their farm’s production, but now also to find funds to invest in the First Milk business. This would help to strip out some of the costs faced by island producers.

“Several work streams are now being progressed with milk producers now at the centre of that effort. The Kintyre brand and the producer base are key Scottish dairy assets. On farm there are tough times ahead but the will to open up investment at the creamery and marketing expertise; perhaps through partnership arrangements is building momentum.

“Delivering and keeping local dairy farmers at the centre of that process can give Argyll’s milk production a secure and positive pool of producers which can also ensure dairy farms on the islands can contribute to a quality brand.”

Note to Editors

  • Photographs from the meeting in Campbeltown are available on request by emailing media@nfus.org.uk or calling 0131 472 4108.

Ends

Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 15/15


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