“BUTE FARMERS BETRAYED BY THEIR OWN CO-OPERATIVE” – MICHAEL RUSSELL
The MSP for Argyll & Bute Michael Russell has reacted angrily to today’s announcement by First Milk that it is further reducing the price it pays to its dairy farmer members in Scotland, with an additional cut for Bute farmers because of transportation costs. He has confirmed that he has already spoken to the company, as well as to Richard Lochhead, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, about the issue.
Commenting on the price reduction, Mr Russell said:
“I was horrified to be notified this morning by farmers that a further cut to the price they receive was going to be announced today. First Milk claim their “turnaround” plan requires them to take 0.2p more off the price of a litre supplied by Scottish farmers, though no such reduction is to apply to Welsh farmers.
“As the price paid is already below the cost of production, this is a further serious blow to Kintyre. However, to add insult to injury, the price being paid by the company to dairy farmers on Bute will fall by 1.2p from the 1st of June, with the company citing increased freight costs as being the reason.
“In reality, this is a cynical attempt by First Milk to blackmail the Scottish Government into further transport subsidies, with the benefit going not to farmers, but to the company. It is also a cruel betrayal of the Bute farmers who have supported their own co-operative over many years.
“There is tremendous anger today on Bute and further afield. I spoke to the company this morning and told them that I regarded their actions as absolutely unacceptable, and have also had a telephone conversation with Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead, who was as horrified as I was.
“I am taking a delegation of Bute farmers to see the Transport Minister on the 12th of May , which is the same day as Richard Lochhead is due to meet First Milk. There will be an unequivocal message from all of us to the company on that day – reverse these appalling decisions , and apologise for them.
“I will also press the Government hard for immediate help with transport costs though we need to find a way to ensure that the money does not go into the pocket of First Milk but instead into the dairy farms on Bute.”