FARM milk collections and onward distribution by processors to retail outlets was badly hit by the “beast from the east”.

Some shoppers in the Stirling area were so desperate for milk that they travelled to Graham’s The Family Dairies headquarters in Bridge of Allan to pick up supplies in person. Graham’s operations director, Shaun Dorrian, said: “It’s difficult to describe how frantic it was – the milk is like white gold.

“The difficulty was getting tankers onto the roads – both to bring the milk to our creamery from our farmers, then after processing and packing, to get it to the shops."

Arla reported collections severely affected by the road conditions, with their farmers in Scotland, north-east England and south west England experiencing the greatest impact.

To support its farmer members, Arla confirmed last week that it would pay any farmer who had to dispose of their milk if collections were prevented due to road conditions. But it pointed out that payment for lost milk would not be made if farm tracks and farm access areas were the reason for collection not being possible, stressing that these were the responsibility of the farmer.

With regard to total volume of milk lost due to the snow, an Arla spokeswoman said: “We are not discussing volumes.”

A spokesman for Muller said: "Despite a substantial number of farms being located in areas covered by red weather warnings, over 96% of the milk which we would normally expect was picked up.

“That’s down to strong collaboration and communication between our business and farmers, with extraordinary levels of commitment shown to clearing farm roads and getting the job done. Most of our farmers have insurance in place to cover for non-collection due to weather and we have long recommended that this is sensible and good business practice. Our advice to farmers who we couldn’t reach is to use this insurance cover.”

A spokesman for First Milk said: “Due to the severity and widespread nature of the bad weather, we were unable to make every collection from every farm when it was scheduled. Unfortunately, some milk did have to be disposed of on farm, but it is too early to accurately tell the total volume of milk that was impacted.

“With regard to payment for milk that had to be disposed of on farm, our position since 2010 has been that members are advised to take out their own insurance cover for milk not collected by adverse weather.

“Our hauliers, colleagues and members worked tirelessly to collect as much milk as possible. Members helped clear roads, helped transport staff to work at creameries and, in at least one case, provided overnight accommodation to a tanker driver," he added.

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