Argyll & Bute MSP, Michael Russell has described the dairy industry in Kintyre, Bute and Gigha as “in crisis” and has said that “the future of the dairy industry in my constituency hangs on a knife edge. If there is not a significant price rise or significant intervention before the winter sets in, with increased feeding costs, many of those who are presently in the sector will leave it, no matter the cost to them.”
Speaking in a debate on agriculture in the Scottish Parliament he used the example of Cllr Robert Macintyre’s Dunallan farm on Bute to illustrate the severe problems facing dairy farmers and he criticised the dairy co-operative First Milk for their decision to use increased payments from TESCO to the company’s Havordfordwest Creamery solely for the benefit of farmers directly supplying that plant rather than sharing it amongst co-operative members
Commenting on that situation Mr Russell said in the debate: “When is a co-operative not a co-operative? The answer is when it is run by First Milk.
I appeal to First Milk to rescind that decision to help all its members to survive, not just some. The members of First Milk have much money tied up in the company and they want it to succeed, but if First Milk turns its back on them just when they need it most, it will forfeit all right to respect and continuing support”
Mr Russell also praised the Scottish Government for its help with the refurbishment of the Campbeltown Creamery but called on Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead to bring forward urgent new assistance for local dairy farmers and to ensure that European payments, due in December, are paid on time or even earlier than in previous years given the pressure caused by price issues in the sheep and beef sectors, the dairy crisis and the bad weather experienced during the summer.
Mr Russell’s contribution to the debate can be found here: