Dale Farm softens March drop with new ‘member payment’

Dale Farm has continued the downward movement on its milk price – cutting 0.2p/L off the amount paid for March’s supplies.

The drop has been attributed mainly to a quieter market caused by the extension to Brexit as traders work through stockpiles they had saved leading up to March 29 to buffer against a hard Brexit.

Board members set the price earlier this week at 25.5p/L plus a 0.3p/L loyalty bonus.

It’s down 0.2p/L but the blow to farms will be significantly lessened by a new 0.1p/L ‘member payment’ added to all suppliers’ cheques.

The new member payment is a way of divvying out money made by the co-op over the last year through operational savings.

Suppliers will have been informed about the payment at farmer meetings held around the country as part of Dale Farm’s company update at the start of the new milk year.

Explaining the drop to this month’s base price, a spokesman said: “The issue is strong supply in UK, and the Republic of Ireland is also off to a good start. Cheddar and butter stockpiles in GB to mitigate against Brexit has also meant that traders are quiet.”

However, he added that price setters were hoping the extension to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU would help stabilise markets over the coming months.

Across the water, Dale Farm’s GB milk price for March is 27.75p/L, and for April it will be 26.75p/L.

A spokesman explained that the higher GB price is based on producers achieving higher constituents (4% Butterfat and 3-3.3% Protein).

Cross-border rival Lakeland Dairies has announced it will pay Northern Ireland producers 25.25p/L for milk supplied in March. It represents a drop of 0.5p/L on the co-operative’s February price.