Welsh farmers 'anxious' at milk pay delay

Milk bottles Image copyright PA
Image caption Farmers have had to cope with months of falling milk prices

A farming union says it is anxious and concerned after a dairy co-operative announced that it will be delaying paying farmers for milk by two weeks.

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said First Milk's decision was another setback for the Welsh dairy industry after months of falling milk prices.

Deputy farming minister Rebecca Evans said she was seeking urgent talks with the company.

First Milk said it had to act to put its finances on a stronger footing.

FUW president Emyr Jones said the payment postponement would put farmers in an "untenable position", as they cannot delay paying their own bills.

First Milk operates a number of milk production facilities across England, Scotland and Wales - including the Haverfordwest Creamery cheese plant in Pembrokeshire.

The co-operative's chairman, the South East Cambridgeshire MP Sir Jim Paice, said First Milk was "acutely aware" of the pressure it was putting on its milk suppliers.

But he said the payment delay was one of the measures that would help inject fresh cash into First Milk after a year of wildly fluctuating world prices for milk products.

He said the co-operative would also be talking to banks at national and local levels to explain how the delay may impact some of its farming members.

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