Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has written to Richard Lochhead, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs & the Environment, urging intervention by the Scottish Government and the European Union in the on-going dairy crisis, as First Milk – the only producer purchasing milk in Argyll & Bute – announced a further one pence fall in their “A” price, bringing it to an all time low.
Mr Russell said:
“This further reduction in one stroke negates the concession given only last month by the Scottish Government on the transport of milk from Bute and Gigha.
“Consequently it puts in further jeopardy the future of milk producers in those places and also in Kintyre, for whom the cost of production is now vastly greater than the price they can obtain from the only purchaser of their milk.
“I have had a number of messages from dairy farmers in Bute and Kintyre since the announcement yesterday and most are now actively considering leaving the sector. They simply cannot sustain month on month cuts in price that seem to have no end in sight.
“Losing the dairy sector in Argyll & Bute would be devastating for the local economy and for the overall agricultural health of the area. In the light of that I raised the question of European intervention with Commissioner Hogan last week when he appeared before the Rural Affairs Committee and he indicated that European funds might be available. I also raised the issue at the Rural Affairs Committee this morning and repeated that commitment from Commissioner Hogan.
“I am therefore asking Richard Lochhead to take forward that possibility as quickly as possible and to find any other means he can to deliver real practical and urgent assistance for the dairy farmers of Argyll & Bute, without which I fear there will be virtually no dairy sector left in this area within a few months.”