You told us you care where your food comes from (just like we do), so The Co-op ploughs profits into making sure farmers are looked after. In fact, we’ve supported farmers for decades, not just because it’s a big talking point now. At The Co-operative we have a close, dedicated relationship with just under 200 dairy farmers, who form The Co-operative Dairy Group.
Each farmer within the Group maintains strict standards, including working alongside the environment, and they hold regular meetings to share ideas and best practice. In return for this hard work, the farmers are guaranteed a premium price for their top-quality milk. The Group was set up in 2011 to support British dairy farmers and to cement relationships with producers, who give us both high-quality milk and a transparent supply chain.
Take Colin Mair for example, who breeds dairy cows in Dumfries. Thanks to Co-op help, he’s invested in simple things like an automatic foot bath in his milking parlour, which has improved the health of his herd by 90 per cent. We might not always have had fancy foot baths, but we’ve always cared about happy farmers and healthy cows – because that means healthy milk on your table.
Meet the Dairy Farmer: Colin Mair
Dumfries-based dairy farmer Colin Mair was the first to win our prestigious award Outstanding Farmer of the Year, which was presented to him at the 2014 Co-operative Retail Trading Group Awards.
Colin, who has just under 200 milking cows and 130 heifers on his 330-acre farm, has been a member of The Co-operative Dairy Group since its launch in 2011. Colin impressed judges with his work ethos of ‘Keep it simple and practical’, while also paying great attention to detail and planning for the future.
Farming with his wife, Lorraine, and children, Erin and Robbie, Colin has worked hard to improve the overall health of his herd and their welfare, as well as investing in the conservation of energy and water. By setting clear targets, his herd has increased by 90% since 2011, and he’s invested in a lot of new technology, which, along with improving herd health, has allowed him to start milking the cows three times a day.
The farm is now highly efficient, using a natural spring for water, solar panels to generate electricity and a heat recovery system. The family hosts six primary school farm visits each year as part of their involvement with the Royal Highland Education Trust.
‘I find The Co-operative Dairy Group meetings extremely worthwhile. It’s not just about what you learn from the meetings, it’s also about talking to other farmers and sharing our knowledge and challenges. I am always picking up something from them!’ says Colin.
“There is nothing more rewarding than walking through the shed and seeing my cows healthy and content. If the cows are looking well, we are seeing increases in profits and are able to re-invest in our business. That is what job satisfaction is all about!” Colin Mair – The Co-operative Dairy Group.