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HomeLatest NewsBattle for milk at three cents a liter

Battle for milk at three cents a liter

Date: August 20, 2022 Time: 05:41:03

John Gutierrez is 36 years old and a rancher. With 140 cows, 60 of which are dairy cows, his farm is twice the size of his father’s in the Biscay town of Carranza, which borders Cantabria. He produces an average of 500,000 liters a year, but John hasn’t done the math in a long time. Like most of his colleagues, he is now operating “at a loss,” he says. “What I get paid for a liter of milk, I don’t cover the costs,” he says, stunned by the rising cost of feed, diesel and electricity. The company that until Thursday bought milk from his cows, SAT Valle de Karrantza, paid him 42 cents per litre. He claims that now, with prices rising, “below 44 cents, I’m operating at a loss.” As an example, he points out that in two months the price of a ton of feed increased by 100 euros. “It makes sense that I want to sell my milk to the highest bidder, right?” However, his meeting with another company, Central Láctea de los Picos de Europa, which offered him three cents more for every litre, 45, led not only to his sudden expulsion, day after day, from the SAT supplier network, but to a real battle in the Carranza Valley for controlling ranchers in the area and preventing them from running away to another company that offers them more money.

According to John Gutierrez, the day after meeting with the Asturian company Central Láctea de los Picos de Europa to “listen to their proposals without reaching any agreement”, SAT Valle de Karrantza decided to exclude him from the supplier group as “retaliation” for that he held a meeting with a “competing” company and made it easy for those in charge of that company to meet with other ranchers in the area who might be interested. From there, he assures that a series of “pressures” have begun on the rest of the farmers supplying SAT so that they do not leave with another company, as well as calls to various companies trying to get Gutierrez banned as a supplier, and not be able to sell their milk. Asturian Picos de Europa manager Daniel Elola assured that one of the managers of the SAT cooperative has contacted several companies with which both have business to try to close their relationship with Asturian if ‘the farmers take away’. “We want to grow and we need more suppliers. We have the right to make offers to farmers,” he says.

In a message sent by SAT Valle de Karrantza on May 25 to John Gutiérrez, and also addressed to Irene Arnaiz, his wife with whom he shares a company, the company informs them that the next day, 26, she will stop collecting milk from her farm, explaining the end of the relationship “technical restructuring of production and distribution in the dairy industry”. The decision to “cast him out” for John is a clear attempt by the SAT to keep control of all ranchers and be “a cartel of sorts” by setting “the price they want so we can’t complain”. “. This company is the supplier of Eroski, which sells this milk in its supermarkets under its own brand at a price of 81 cents, emphasizing that it comes from Basque farmers. In fact, the cooperative is buying products from zero kilometer. Sources from Eroski told /Euskadi that they know the price the company pays the farmers, but they “do not discuss it”, so this issue affects the relationship between the SAT and the farmer.In any case, they considered that 42 cents is a cost above the average market.

That same night on Thursday the 26th, the company tried for the last time to collect the milk, but fearing that they might “manipulate” it with “some kind of antibiotic” to justify their expulsion and thereby prevent other companies from buying it, the owner ranch refused. y collect milk if it has not been analyzed “in situ” and closed analysis has been carried out. The company refused to do so, so John’s tank was left with 6,000 liters of milk on Thursday. On Friday morning he had to throw away 1200 liters because he no longer had room to store them. At the price at which milk has been sold so far, 42 cents 504 euros passed through the manure pit. Picos de Europa later emptied the tank. “I had to come to terms with them emptying it for me before making an agreement with them not to toss more milk,” he says.

After attempting to contact the person responsible for the Valle de Karrantza company, the company left in the hands of its legal adviser, Asier Loroño, “the refutation of any pressure on the farmers or any company.” “There is no pressure. Any rancher can deliver milk to anyone he wants,” he says. And this justifies the fact that the agreement with John Gutierrez was abruptly terminated for “it appeared that he was trying to organize a parallel milk collection with another company”, to which he tried to involve other farmers working in the area, although in the letter , which was sent to the rancher to notify him of the end of his milk collection, this conflict was not mentioned. depends on you

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