Farmers ‘pull the plug’ on milk amid HGV driver crisis


Dairy farmers who have been forced to dump thousands of litres of milk thanks to lorry driver shortages fear they are just at the “tip of the iceberg”.

It comes after a Conservative MP suggested that straining supply chains would be good news for farmers.

According to Sky News, one farmer from the Midlands has poured away 40,000 litres of milk in the past two months when nobody turned up to collect it.

“It’s cutting, it’s emotionally draining when you’re producing milk and at the end of the day you have to pull the plug,” the man, who asked not to be named, said.

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He has destroyed four milk loads since August, having previously been forced to do so two or three times in 45 years.

Other farmers have turned to “distress milk services”, which buy milk at lower prices to stop it going to waste.

According to dairy expert Peter Alvis, disruption could hit farmers hard because many do not make a profit on their milk.

“The shortage of HGV drivers is having quite a large impact,” he said.

“I don’t think things with global supply chains have settled down again after the pandemic.”

Alvis believes that milk dumping has been limited so far, but admitted that precise data is difficult to come by.

Rob Hunthatch, who runs a distress milk service, said he only has about two hours to pick up the milk after a farmer calls him.

In September, he saved 160,000 litres of milk in Cheshire alone – a 100,000 litre increase from August – but was unable to get to a further 80,000 litres.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” Huntbatch said.

“I think it will get worse – in wintertime if there’s snow, drivers get slowed down, and it’s going to make even more of an impact.”

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