Wales

Farmers want clarity over Tomlinsons Dairies 'issues'

Tomlinsons Dairies sign
Image caption The business expanded from a doorstep milk round in 1983

Farming leaders are seeking "urgent clarification" about a major dairy amid claims farmers have been told it could no longer accept their milk supplies.

Farmers who supply Tomlinsons Dairies, Wrexham, said they have been told to find an alternate milk processor but not given any reasons why.

The dairy has been asked to comment.

A spokesman for NFU Cymru said it was "investigating further to understand the problem". One affected farmer said the situation was "a mess".

Keith Thompson
BBC
I'm desperately concerned - dairy farming is something myself, my wife and family have done all our lives."
Keith Thompson
Dairy farmer

Farmer Keith Thompson said he was lucky enough to find another firm able to process the 4,500 litres of milk his herd produces daily.

"Our immediate priority is to secure a milk buyer," he said. "That's why my milk is on its way to Lancashire."

He said he had received a text message from an agricultural agent advising him to find a new milk processor on Sunday morning.

"I'm desperately concerned - dairy farming is something myself, my wife and family have done all our lives."

It is not yet known how many farmers have been affected.

Aled Jones, who is deputy president of NFU Cymru and has a farm outside Caernarfon in Gwynedd, said: "I could hardly sleep last night. Everything was going on in my mind.

"I just felt disappointed. It's extremely worrying and margins are very very tight as it is."

Mr Jones was able to get the milk in his tank taken by a processor in Pwllheli, but he said it was just a "stopgap" before a permanent solution could be found.

Image copyright Getty Images

NFU Cymru said it had "received reports of issues at Tomlinson's Dairy", adding: "We are currently seeking urgent clarification and investigating further to understand the problem and the potential impact on our members.

"We will work to assist any affected members where possible."

In 2017, Tomlinson's Dairies expanded its cold storage facilities after receiving £5m from Welsh Government, £2m from Finance Wales and £14.5m from HSBC.

It was employing about 170 staff that year and planned to create 70 more jobs with its expansion.

The business was established in 1983 by brothers Philip and John Tomlinson, expanding from a doorstep round using milk from their family dairy farm in Minera.

Another Tomlinsons supplier, Wrexham dairy farm JH Morris, said it received a phone call on Saturday advising it to contact one of three alternate milk processors, including Cheshire-based County Milk, to arrange milk collection.

"We don't know what's happening," said Judith Morris.

Mark Langslow, a director at County Milk, said he was "surprised" to start receiving calls on Saturday from worried farmers asking him to accept milk supplies.

He said he had not received any advance notice from Tomlinsons, but pledged to help farmers.

"I don't know the underlying cause that has prompted this," he added.

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