Icy roads force farmers to dump uncollected milk

FrieslandCampina (Photo: J187B/Wikimedia Commons). (FrieslandCampina (Photo: J187B/Wikimedia Commons))

The icy roads in the northern provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe mean that dairy producer FrieslandCampina is having trouble collecting milk. So far this resulted in 450 farmers forced to dump a total of between 4 and 5 million liters of milk in the manure pit, broadcaster NOS reports.

"The farmers we asked to dump the milk, involves three days old milk. We can guarantee the quality of milk up to three days, then no more, that's why we made this decision", spokesperson for the dairy producer Jan-Willem ter Avest said to the broadcaster. "We choose for the safety of our drivers and other road users."

The management is still discussing whether and how the 450 farmers will be compensated for their loss. If the bad weather continues, there is a good chance that more milk will disappear into the manure pit. This is the first time since 1979 that milk is going uncollected on this scale. That year the reason was also severe winter weather problems.

Kees Romijn of the profession group Melkveehouderij, dairy farming in English, told the broadcaster that this is obviously "force majeure" - a French term for a clause put into contracts to remove liability if natural and unavoidable catastrophe prevents a party from fulfilling obligations. "And it is the responsibility of FrieslandCampina to make this decision." he said. "But I assume that the cooperative will solve the problem. FrieslandCampina already gives two cents per liter of milk extra if the farmers deliver less, this fits nicely into that." According to Romijn, the average dairy farmer has a milk tank with a capacity of 8 thousand liters. That would mean 2,400 euros in discarded milk per farmer.