FIRST MILK announced that over 1,000 farmers within one of its co-operatives would see a delay in their pay cheque, due on Monday 12th January, and all subsequent payments after will be put back a fortnight.
The news has been said to have made many dairy farmers ‘extremely anxious’ as the future of the business is called into question with finances so precarious.
First Milk is one of the largest dairy co-operatives in the UK and has hundreds of farms across the country supplying its wholesale distribution – largely to supermarkets – network.
First Milk also outlined plans to increase capital levy contributions and will recoup extra capital from farmers, despite many claiming they are paid under production cost to maintain a First Milk supplier contract.
Meurig Raymond, president of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) said he was in ‘urgent talks’ with First Milk to ensure that its financial health is secured during this difficult time.
Raymond added: ‘The NFU’s first priority has been to get a meeting with First Milk to seek answers to very specific questions about how this will impact on our members.
‘It is quite clear that this announcement will be a serious burden for farmers and will be damaging to cash flow at an expensive and demanding time of year for costs. It is essential at this time that banks understand and are supportive of our farmer members so they can continue to finance their businesses.’
First Milk has pointed to rapidly growing issues across the globe as having an effect on its operation, though farmers have argued that international markets have little impact on them as 80% of milk produced in the UK is also used in Britain.