Dairy farmers to co-own co-operative
More than 1,000 dairy farmers in the South West are being offered the chance to become co-owners of a giant European co-operative.
They are members of Arla Milk Link, who have welcomed the chance to become owners of Arla Foods, one of the EU's largest farming groups.
Ownership will bring an added degree of trading security for the 1,600 members of the former farmer co-operative Milk Link, most of whom farm in the Westcountry – 300 in Cornwall alone.
Milk Link merged with Arla Foods last year. At a meeting in Denmark, the Arla Foods board of representatives, which includes elected members from Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium, approved the proposal for them to become co-owners of Arla Foods from January 1.
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In addition the board approved the proposal for them to receive the supplementary, or 13th, payment in 2014, two years ahead of the original merger agreement.
Welcoming the decision, Jonathan Ovens, chairman of Arla Foods Milk Partnership, said: "I am absolutely delighted that the proposal has received the approval of Arla Foods. This demonstrates the strategic importance of the UK and is a reflection of the 20-year relationship that we have had with our processing partner.
"The next steps for Arla Milk Link farmers is to sign and return their new supply contract by November 15 to guarantee ownership of Arla Foods co-op.
"We have been given a ceiling of 1.8 billion litres of milk. Should this figure not be met, Arla will recruit new members up to that ceiling. I would urge current Arla farmers interested in becoming owners of Arla Foods to sign and return their contract, and for farmers who currently do not supply Arla to make contact to register their interest."