First Milk Dairy is to repay its 1,000 dairy farmers for the last 2 weeks missed payments
The deferral of dairy farmers member payment terms that came into place in 2014 has been reversed, this will take effect from February 10th 2017, two years after the change was implemented.
First Milk Member payments received by dairy farmers on the 10th of February will be backdated and include 6 weeks worth of payments.
Mike Gallacher, CEO commented:
“We are pleased to be again increasing our milk prices, with cumulative increases since June now around 11ppl. This is the eighth milk price increase in a row reflecting both the improvement in market returns and a leaner, more focused First Milk business.
“We anticipate updating members again later this week with positive news on the refinancing of the business.”
“First Milk is a very different to the business of early 2015. We are a lean, focused and financially secure business capable of delivering a competitive milk price for the long term.
“The role for a scale British Dairy Co-operative is even more compelling post Brexit and we aim to demonstrate this in the years ahead.”
First Milk has been working hard to transform and strengthen their position in order to sustain their business, which looked for a while in January 2015 as if it might not be sustainable.
Dairy farmers fear the worst
Mike Gorton, 58, who has farmed all his life at Harebarrow Farm. The milk price crash deferred payments from the First Milk co-operative, of which he is a founder member, have created the most dangerous time for dairy farmers Gorton can remember. “There will be a time when I say the cows have got to go. For the first time in my working life, that is a real consideration.”
Gorton’s herd produces 500,000 litres of milk a year. “First Milk take every drop I produce,” he says. “At least with a co-op, you have a guaranteed outlet. It will be collected.” It would be very hard to find another buyer now, he adds.
“At first I was really bothered. I wondered if [First Milk’s] deferral of the payment was the first sign of the whole thing going down the pan,” Gorton says. “But I hope this will put it back on track. If First Milk goes, that is my business gone overnight.”
First Milk’s Operational Performance
Thankfully for dairy farmers, First Milk has worked hard to sustain their business. They have a new leadership team, a new business strategy, improved operational performance, is free of loss-making subsidiaries and has established a more effective governance structure.
Clive Sharpe, Chairman of First Milk;
“This move sends a clear signal on the progress made by First Milk and returns our payment terms to normal for our dairy farmers, The Board recognises the huge role members have played in the turnaround of their co-op, and thank them for their continued support.”