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UPDATE: Dairy farmers dump milk as tankers struggle to reach farms

Arla has announced farmers will be paid even if road conditions prevent collection.


Alex   Black

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Alex   Black
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Arla farmers to be paid even if road conditions prevent collection #TeamDairy

With tankers unable to reach farms in many areas due to the bad weather, dairy farmers have had to face dumping milk.

 

Arla has announced it will pay the cost of its farmer owners milk if collection is unavailable due to roads being blocked due to extreme weather.

 

However, payment for lost milk will not be made if farm tracks and farm access areas are the reason for collection not being able. These remain the responsibility of the farmer.


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Graham Wilkinson, senior director of member relations, Arla Foods UK said: “The weather is proving extremely difficult for Arla farmers who are battling the elements as well as freezing pipes in the milking parlour.

 

Heroic efforts

 

“Despite heroic efforts by Arla famers and drivers, in some cases it is proving impossible to collect milk because of the road network.”

 

He added the lengths farmers went to so they could enjoy dairy products needed to be recognised and guaranteeing farmers will get paid was ’the right thing to do in these extreme circumstances’.

A spokesman for Muller said: “Despite a substantial number farms being located in areas covered by red weather warnings, over 96 per cent of the milk which we would normally expect was picked up during the week.

 

“That is down to strong collaboration and communication between our business and farmers, with extraordinary levels of commitment shown to clearing farm roads and getting the job done.

 

“Most of our farmers have insurance in place to cover for non-collections due to weather and we have long recommended that this is sensible and good business practice.

 

“Our advice to farmers who we couldn’t reach is to use this insurance cover.”

Hard work

Welsh dairy farmer Abi Reader, who supplies milk to Tomlinson’s, had to dump 8,600 litres of milk.

 

She said she was insured and their group secretary at NFU Mutual had told them they were covered.

 

“The insurance did not make it feel any better. I waited until the last possible minute to open the tap, it is a hard thing to do.

 

“The cows worked hrs to produce it, the team worked hard to produce it. We take a great pride in every litre and I watched it all run down the drain.

 

“It probably didn't help it was just another problem on top of a very challenging few days - frozen parlour, water, shed full of snow, cows calving in perishing conditions. It was the icing on a really bad cake.”

 

The tanker's managed to reach her farm yesterday and she said it was an 'awesome sight to see him coming down the road'.

 

She added the lorries, from an independent haulier, had been under 5ft of snow in Pontypool but communication had been excellent with the hauliers and Tomlinson’s.

 

“Most farms in my area tipped their milk,” she added.

Right decision

Arla farmer Andrew Barraclough had to dump three days milk.

 

"We did have it rough but no way as rough as the farmers down the east fell side who got the extremes caused by the helm wind and blizzards.

 

"Having to dump milk knowing our lane was clear felt so wrong as it is something we are all brought up to not do and it goes against the grain of how farmers think knowing the work gone into getting the milk into the tank especially in the extreme weather conditions.

 

"Although dumping the milk felt so wrong, Arla’s decision to pay for the milk was the right decision and shows how being in a coop means we all are working together for the same goals and can share some of the stress of having to take the extreme action of dumping our milk.

 

"Most of us who dumped our milk were only aware of the conditions around our farms and it was only when we spoke to the tanker driver when we eventually got him back in our yard did it become apparent the issues they had been facing right up the supply chain from farm to supermarket shelves and that Arla’s decision to tell farmers to dump milk was the right decision even though it felt so wrong."

Ireland

In Cork, Ireland, dairy farmer Peter Hynes said he had no tanker for 6 days until yesterday (March 4) but did not have to dump milk.

 

"Trucks started rolling again Saturday night, they were parked since Friday am, our Co-op, Dairygold, sent out a loading shovel ahead of trucks to clear worst patches all Saturday night and they worked through more or less catching up last night.

 

"Coops here are paying 20cent a litre on dumped milk to aid farmers."

 

A thaw has now set in with most of the snow gone, the ground was wet with a lot of fodder shortages in parts of Ireland.

 

"Our cows are housed since last Wed & being fed surplus quality bales.

 

"We have never ever missed so many grazings as this spring, we run a grass based system, cows out February 1 but it's been tricky this year.

 

"We always in past managed 2 grazing every day in February and March but it is tough this year.

 

"Just waiting on a feed truck , they too were stopped but started sat night and delivered all through yesterday too."

Somerset farmer Nik Pole, who supplies Muller on a co-op contract, said he had to dump one day's production of 12,500 litres.

 

"Muller''s response was dump the milk we’ll get to you when we can but no we’re not going to pay you for it that’s your problem.

 

"Even when access was possible the contingency with their collection depot was very poor, I’d hate dumping milk even when getting paid for it, it’s even worse when you work all day knowing you’re not going to get paid.

 

"There’s a fine margin making a profit milking at the moment and the difference of making and losing money is only a couple of days milk each month."

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