Justin Birch and Louise Hart of Isle of Wight Dairy Farmers, with DEFRA farming Minister David Heath MP.
FARMERS in the Isle of Wight’s milk co-operative — the first of its kind in the country — are hoping for a share of a new £5 million government fund announced by a minister today (Tuesday).
David Heath MP was on the Isle of Wight visiting a number of rural businesses and projects, including the Isle of Wight Dairy Group, which was said by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to be leading the country in its approach.
The group has been negotiating with supermarkets to stock Isle of Wight milk and promoting local dairies through the I Love Isle of Wight Milk campaign.
DEFRA is consulting on new rules to allow dairy farmers to come together and form producer organisations to sell their combined milk to processing companies, rather than negotiate as individuals.
Using government LEADER funding the Isle of Wight Dairy Group has already brought together 17 of the Island’s dairy farmers to produce and market Isle of Wight branded milk to around 30 retailers on the Island.
Mr Heath said: "England’s dairy industry is world-leading, yet still has so much potential to expand, and I’m convinced that better industry collaboration is the key.
"We’ve already got the industry code of practice, and negotiating as groups rather than individuals will give dairy farmers an even louder voice to get their just rewards in the marketplace."
Mr Heath also heard from Laurence Mitchell Jewellery about the difference faster broadband was making to the prospects of rural businesses since the community received a £90,000 grant from Defra.
The minister met the harbourmaster for a tour of Yarmouth Harbour, and was told how £100,000 government funding to increase mooring space was expected to boost the local economy.
For more on this story, please see the Isle of Wight County Press on Friday, December 14.