The NFU is urging First Milk to meet with their milk suppliers as a matter of priority.
After face-to-face talks with the dairy co-operative today, NFU President Meurig Raymond said information from First Milk to its milk suppliers was absolutely essential given the current situation.
First Milk announced on Thursday that it is delaying its next milk payment by two weeks, increasing capital levy contributions and recouping extra capital from farmers at a time when they are already under huge financial pressure. Mr Raymond said the timing of the announcement meant a serious burden for farmers and damage to cash flow at an expensive and demanding time of year for costs.
“It is paramount that the financial stability of First Milk is secured,” said Mr Raymond. “And as a farmer-owned co-operative, I expect First Milk to arrange early meetings with their farmer suppliers, before their AGM at the end of January, to answer their urgent questions. Farmers need to have a better understanding of their options in order to develop a sustainable business plan.
“Make no mistake, I have heard from NFU members, some who are extremely anxious after yesterday’s news, and I have taken those views to the chairman of First Milk during discussions today.
“My priority is the impact of First Milk’s announcement on our members and I am working to ensure we are doing all we can across the NFU to support our members at this crucial time.
“Our county advisers and group secretary network is working to support our members affected and we are taking lots of calls from worried members at CallFirst. To help with information to our members we have compiled a Q&A which is available on NFU Online.
“In the meantime we are holding ongoing talks with banks to ensure they remain supportive to dairy farmers at this crucial time”, he said.
With thanks to NFU Mutal.