NEWS that Monmouthshire County Council has canceled Raglan’s Dairy contract to supply milk to local schools in favour of a Pembrokeshire-based company has been branded an “appalling decision” by Conservative leader Cllr Richard John.

Since September 2018 Raglan Dairy has been supplying the county’s schools, leisure centres, and care homes with milk from Monmouthshire farms. However, as part of MCC’s cost-cutting drive, the milk will now be provided from Pembrokeshire farms and distributed from Cardiff.

The previous council administration’s contract with Raglan Dairy, entailed all council services were using local milk, all sourced from Monmouthshire farms. It was provided in reusable glass bottles and was enjoyed by children in the county’s primary schools, as well as users of other council assets like Caldicot Castle and Tintern Old Station.

Cllr Richard John said: “This is an appalling decision to stop using Monmouthshire milk in our schools, care homes, and leisure centres and goes against everything the council is supposed to stand for. It will increase carbon emissions, it fails to support local businesses and directly contradicts the council’s policy on food procurement.

“The council recently published a transport plan focussed on getting motorists out of their cars to protect the environment and then makes a decision to source milk from over 100 miles away instead of the good quality milk we have from our own farmers.

“The council is developing a local food strategy that is due to come to Cabinet in May that has a guiding principle of sourcing local produce.

“Only last month we had a debate in the council about supporting our farmers and Conservative councillors voted to urge the Welsh Government to pause its consultation on its Sustainable Farming Scheme, which would force farmers to give up 10% of their land for tree planting.

“We really value the critical role that Monmouthshire farmers play in supplying us with high-quality local produce and as a rural council, Monmouthshire should be supporting them.

“The Labour administration inherited this milk contract from the previous administration and I’m disgusted that they’re scrapping it in favour of milk that will be transported from over 100 miles away, denying our residents the chance to drink locally sourced milk.

“Amongst Conservative councillors, it was a source of pride that Monmouthshire used only locally sourced milk from Monmouthshire farms. Residents will be appalled at this decision and I strongly urge the cabinet to ensure that Monmouthshire children can enjoy Monmouthshire milk.

Bottles of milk
(Tindle News)

James Durose of Raglan Dairy explained: “A lot of people might think it’s sour grapes on our behalf, but if the contract had gone to another Monmouthshire Dairy it wouldn’t have been a problem. It’s the principle at stake.

"Because we’re classed as a secondary and not a primary supplier, MCC did offer us the olive branch of acting as a distributor for the Pembrokeshire-based company but that completely goes against our ethos. We believe in distributing local milk to local people and we’re not about to throw our principles in the bin for some easy money.”

MP David Davies told the Chronicle: “I have spoken at length with Raglan Dairy and there is obviously a great deal of disappointment. The council should be doing more to support local farmers, not turning their back on them. Dairy farmers are already suffering in Monmouthshire because of the failure of the Welsh Government to tackle bovine TB and we need to be doing everything we can to help the industry and our farming community at the moment. I will be writing to ask the council for a full explanation.”

MCC has been contacted for a statement.