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Green economy wales
16 July 2024

Dairy Co-operative Offers Farmers Incentives to go Organic

A leading organic dairy co-operative is looking to increase its output by offering financial incentives for farmers to switch to organic milk production.

Launched in 2000 by four farmers, Carmarthenshire-based Calon Wen Organic Milk Co-operative has grown to become one of the UK’s leading organic brands with a group turnover of approximately £12.5 million.

The company’s dairy-product arm produces Calon Wen branded milk, butter, and cheese, which are sold in independent and multiple retailers across Wales and England.

Calon Wen is forecasting a minimum flat rate price of 50ppl for 2025/2026 with no seasonality deductions and is looking to recruit established organic producers and farmers considering converting to organic dairying.

The co-operative has 25 organic dairy farmer members spread throughout Wales, producing around 20 million litres of milk annually. Calon Wen has strict criteria: the milk its members supply must contain 4% butterfat and 3.15 % protein, with a Bactoscan count below 50 and a Somatic Cell Count (SCC) cell count below 300.

Calon Wen's Managing Director Dai Miles, a dairy farmer, said:

“We take a regenerative organic approach that focuses on soil health and the full farm ecosystem. Therefore, as we approach our 25th anniversary, we are very confident in the future of organic dairy farming and buoyed by consumer demand for organic dairy products.

“As a business, we have to plan for the future. Many of our members are now second-generation organic farmers, but others are looking to retire, and therefore there is an opportunity for new recruits to the co-operative – whether established organic farmers or those looking to convert – to keep our loyal consumers well-serviced with Calon Wen's organic milk and dairy products.”

In addition to the financial and environmental benefits of organic production, Calon Wen says its membership expansion is an opportunity for new entrants to farming to get a foothold in the industry. Also, the company believes converting to organic production could solve many farmers' concerns about complying with strict NVZ regulations.

As part of its recruitment drive, Calon Wen is offering incentives to farmers considering converting to organic milk production and enlisting existing members to help with the process.

The co-operative is introducing an in-conversion loan scheme for recruits, and also an incentive for members who successfully recruit a new farm.

Dai said:

“We understand some farmers may be concerned about the cost of converting to organic production – especially as there isn't curren

tural expertise and in-depth knowledge of the organic sector to make the necessary changes as easy and seamless as possible for our farmers.”

Pembrokeshire farmer Hefin Evans, who farms at Nant yr Helygen Fawr, Eglwyswrw, with his wife and two adult sons,  joined Calon Wen in 2009.

He said:

“When I converted to organic production, joining Calon Wen was the natural choice. I have been dairy farming all my life, and Calon Wen were on hand with their expert knowledge and support to help me navigate the changes needed to move to an organic system.

“I share Calon Wen's ethos of natural and sustainable farm management practices that benefit the environment and animal welfare and contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

“Being part of the co-operative also means I have an input into the price I receive for my milk and the development of the Calon Wen brand – which helps secure the future of not only my farm but the livelihood of other family farms.”

Although a predominantly Welsh-focused business, Calon Wen recruits members on the English border and supplies processors and retailers in Wales and England.

The company’s primary target areas are in West and North Wales, but Calon Wen would also like to hear from potential members and groups of farmers in England.

Farmers who would like to know more about the benefits of converting to organic dairy production can find expert advice and information by visiting the Calon Wen at this year’s Royal Welsh Show.

The Calon Wen stand is located below the Main Ring grandstand and there will be drop-in sessions for interested farmers between 12pm and 3pm on the Tuesday and Wednesday of the show – July 23rd & 24th.

Dai said:

“We would welcome the opportunity to chat with anyone interested in joining Calon Wen and to tell them about the holistic and environmental benefits of organic farming and the positive business impact that can be made by converting to organic dairying.”

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