STRUGGLING farmers have been forced to sell their cows as milk prices fall.
Farmers in Kintyre, in the southwest of Argyll and Bute, have said that despite working round the clock, 365 days a year, their dairy sector can not keep up with the low prices sold at supermarket chains.
And with farmers in the remote peninsula being offered the lowest prices for milk in the UK, there is worry whether they will manage to keep their businesses afloat over the upcoming winter months.
Donald Kelly, a Campbeltown councillor, said: “Farmers are hanging on by their teeth and it will be a very testing time for them over the next six months, with the additional costs of feeding inside over winter.
“Kintyre is a prime dairy sector within Scotland and everything should be done at all levels to protect the industry.
Archie Millar, 52, a third generation farmer in Campbeltown, put 70 of his prizewinning herd up for auction in Carlisle last month following the decision to quit dairy farming.
He said: “It was a sad day for the whole family. It was quite tough for my family.
“It has been a big part of my life. I have worked here nearly 30 years, milking seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“You get a week off here and there, but usually you are out at five in the morning milking and you are out at night to milk as well.
Millar still has hope that there can be a change for the economic future of dairy farming in Kintyre.
He added: “I was talking to people at the Carlisle sale who are getting 30.5p a litre.
“They sell through Wiseman’s for the Tesco contract, but in Kintyre we can only sell to Campbeltown Creamery.
“That’s run by First Milk, and they are at the bottom of the price table in Britain.”
John Semple, the National Farmers Union Scotland regional chairman for Argyll and the Isles said the problem was an oversupply of milk in Europe.
He added: “The only way they have survived here is that they are family farms and they are going out to work for very little in return.”
Richard Lochhead, the Scottish rural affairs secretary, said: “The Scottish government is committed to supporting Scotland’s dairy farmers both locally and internationally.
“The actions taken recently to support the sector include providing funding of £400,000 to the Campbeltown Creamery – £311,000 of which has already been paid – and launching the Scottish dairy brand to the international market.”