KINTYRE'S dairy farmers have formally launched a bid to buy the Campbeltown Creamery, and its famous Mull of Kintyre-branded cheddar, from dairy co-op First Milk.

The group of 29 local dairy farmers unveiled their plan on Tuesday of this week, with a social media video stressing the unique character of the Kintyre peninsula's milk production – grass grows all year round at its southern end to feed the dairy herds which graze there – and opened a crowd-funding campaign to provide pump-priming cash. With a target of £50,000, that passed £10,000 within the day.

"We are not relying solely on the support of generous donors to make this purchase," said the farmers, now organised as the Mull of Kintyre Milk Supply Cooperative. "The 29 farms will be funding a significant chunk of the purchase themselves – over £1.5 million – through a levy from every litre of milk produced. In addition to this, we are also in the process of confirming external funding."

First Milk, the commercial entity that emerged from the dissolution of the Scottish Milk Marketing Board, had inherited that statutory body's more outlying producers, when many of the dairy farmers in easier reach of the cities were snapped up to supply big processors like Wiseman Dairies and Arla. As such, FM had long since struggled with a higher cost base for either the transportation of its milk supply from further afield, or the maintenance of historic processing facilities near those producers.

So although unpopular, it was not unexpected when in 2018 FM announced its intention to sell Campbeltown Creamery so that it could focus on its 'core' activities. A buyer for the business was initially found, but that deal fell through in May 2019, and the onus then shifted to the area's producers as the last best hope to save the creamery, and with it, secure the future viability of their own milk production.

This week, those 29 farms, describing themselves as "modern, committed and family-owned", confirmed that intention, and appealed to the local community, as well as 'foodies, suppliers, customers, businesses and anyone with a love of cheese' to contribute to their crowdfund – which can be found at

Dairy farming in the Kintyre Peninsula and on nearby Gigha contributes £3.2m per annum to the local economy, according to a 2015 survey carried out on behalf of Highlands and Islands Enterprise. In turn, when additional, upstream, impacts are considered, a further £2.55m is added. The dairy sector in the area provides 117 jobs directly on-farm and a further 49 indirectly across Kintyre.

Although there was no further detail available about that "external funding", community buy-outs are high on the Scottish Government's agenda, as is the Scotland Food and Drink Ambition 2030 focus on strengthening brand reputation around food's geographic provenance and responsible growth in local areas.

Local dairy farmer Thomas Cameron said: “We are currently facing a huge and exciting opportunity with a clear mission – to secure the future of the Campbeltown Creamery for the benefit of the Kintyre community. We will also be in a position to save a well-known brand and contribute to Scotland’s reputation as a Land of Food and Drink.

“The multi award-winning cheese is made with milk that all comes from within a 15-mile radius and from farms that are committed to securing their land for future generations and to contributing to the local economy. Dairy farms in the area need the creamery in order to thrive and the creamery needs us! Given the challenges of sustaining a vibrant economy in this remote part of Scotland, the role of the dairy sector in Kintyre is fundamental to its success.

“Our farmers are young, enthusiastic, committed to sustainability, investment and the next generation and have strong integrity – they are just the right group of people to secure this deal. I encourage everyone to please support us by heading to the crowdfund website and spreading the word.”

For in-depth news and views on Scottish agriculture, see this Friday’s issue of The Scottish Farmer or visit