Freshways is the latest processor to further cut and delay milk payments with its boss citing ‘choked up’ markets as a result of Covid-19 making it more difficult to handle surplus milk.
In a letter to producers, Bali Nihhar, Freshways managing director, said they would receive 23.4ppl for 60 per cent of their production, with 50 per cent of March period payments to be delayed until April 30, with the balance made up no later than May 15.
Mr Nihhar said: “We feel it is the fairest way to resolve issues created by the pandemic and will review the percentage over the next few months and reduce this based on volumes.”
The letter also encouraged farmers to get behind the recent proposals backed by RABDF for a reimbursement scheme which would see about 300 eligible conventional dairy farmers receive 25ppl via a monthly milk cheque paid by Government.
Alan Smith, Freshways farmer representative, said: “This decision means we will be paid 23.4ppl for 60 per cent of our milk and 15ppl for the remaining 40 per cent.
"The worst part is we are getting no help from anyone.
“It is clear industry needs a regulator similar to Ofcom to take the unfairness out of the system as it is an absolute joke. The milk industry is broken.”
Niche specialist markets were also reportedly at ‘breaking point’, with production halted for specialist cheese made from sheep milk, which could see the industry wind up production by the end of the month.
Tenants Farmers Association chief executive, George Dunn, said: “Retailers limiting the range of dairy products available to consumers is neither helpful or necessary at this time and processors must not be put under pressure to fund promotions, to access shelf space or retain their retail listing.
"However, we have to accept that not all of the output previously destined for the foodservice sector will find its way to consumers through retail. Alongside the Government’s efforts to enhance retail trade, it must also intervene in the market to support volume reduction measures and remove surplus product.
“Rather than placing stocks of milk into store, by converting it into butter, powder and cheese, the Government should coordinate the purchase of product to be redirected to the charitable sector including food banks and other relief efforts.
"This will ensure that everyone has access to good quality dairy products and we are not creating a situation where stocks are overhanging the market for when conditions are beginning to return to normal."
Keen to help support milk producers who cannot get collections FareShare, a national network of charitable food redistributors has launched ‘surplus with a purpose’ thanks to a £1.9 million Defra funding grant.
The scheme offers eligible companies up to £50,000 to offset any cost which arises from diverting surplus food to human consumption.
A FareShare spokesperson, said: "Given our very ethos, we are against all food waste and feel for the farmers who are currently seeing their milk go to waste. At FareShare we are always looking for more processed milk (not raw) as it would be greatly received by a great number of the projects we work alongside, especially those with children who need milk for development."