A SOUTH Staffordshire dairy farmer has crossed the Solent to see the UK’s first dairy co-operative of its kind.
Andrew Porteous, who runs a 130-strong milking herd at Brewood with his father Ian, visited Isle of Wight farmers and supermarkets for BBC magazine show Inside Out.
The island’s dairy co-operative has brought together 17 of the island’s dairy farmers to produce and market branded milk to around 30 retailers across the island, including supermarkets and local shops.
Speaking to the Newsletter, Mr Porteous said the Isle of Wight dairy farmers had been inspired to take action by the events of summer 2012, including the meeting at the Staffordshire County Showground, attended by more than 600 farmers and the summit at Westminster attended by more than 3,000.
Following blockades across the country and peace- ful protests, including some outside Stafford and
Stone supermarkets, dairy processors retracted their plans to cut the milk price paid to farmers.
At last week’s NFU conference it was announced that applications for dairy farmers to form producer organisations – which will be able to negotiate con- tracts with buyers - will be taken from April.
Andrew said: “We would like to see the producer organisations in Italy – apparently they are working quite well there.
“I am not aware of anybody wanting to set one up around here, but there is possibly one being set up in East Anglia because they have only got one outlet. We have more processors here – in Stafford you can go either side of the M6. “Farmers are willing to protest again if there is any kind of drop and I would be with them on that. We are still losing 1.5p to 2p a litre on what it costs to produce. We are not getting a fair price because it is below the cost of production.
“The public has been very supportive and we can- not thank them enough for the support we have had. A 2p per litre increase doesn’t sound much but to a farmer that can be £20,000 to pay bills.”