A NEW brand of Isle of Wight milk will be launched next week — to stop the decimation of dairy farming and give Island farmers a fair price for their milk.

From Monday, Isle of Wight milk will be available at three Co-op stores, but it is hoped local support will enable it to be sold in even more locations across the Island.

The idea was developed by Paul Griffin, of Briddlesford Lodge Farm, as a way to protect the Island's heritage, ensure farmers get a fair price for their milk and reduce the impact on the environment by reducing travel distances.

He said a number of farmers were close to bankruptcy as the price of milk had dropped to about half of what it costs to produce the milk.

Paul, the fourth generation of the Griffin family to run his farm, said: "As a dairy farmer, we were looking at decimation on the Isle of Wight. There wasn't going to be a dairy industry."

Of the millions of litres of milk produced each year, Paul estimated about 80 per cent needed to go off the Island for processing.

But Briddlesford has recently installed its own processing plant to produce its premium milk from Guernsey cows with a much larger capacity than needed.

The plant will cut the costs of production while ensuring the highest standard of processing with a 12 day shelf life.

To start the milk flowing, Paul has initially linked up with Read's Farm in Carisbrooke, which is run by Reads Farm Partnership — Kaysie and Mark Reed, assisted by Mark's wife, Jodie.

Mark, who has around 280 Friesian cows, said: "2016 was one of our worst years as we were basically getting out of bed everyday just to lose money.

"It was playing on our minds a lot especially as we have three other people we employ here. We had to make some very difficult decisions.

"This new brand is about working together and ensuring a future for our family and our farm. It gives us hope.

"Our main goal is to look after our cows. If you look after them then they look after you."

Isle of Wight Milk will initially be sold at Southern Co-op food stores at Mill Hill Road, Cowes, Afton Road, Freshwater, and Regent Street, Shanklin — at £1.50 for a two-litre bottle of either whole milk, semi-skimmed or skimmed.

Matt Elliott, who looks after the local flavours range at Southern Co-op, said: "We started our local flavours range on the Isle of Wight over a decade ago and we are always impressed at how supportive the community is of each other.

"We are all really excited about it and very proud to have been asked to be the first to sell it in our stores. There have been a number of smaller businesses we have supported in their journey of growth and we hope this is going to be another success story.

"We have been assured of the quality and it is hoped that Paul will be able to get more dairy farmers involved in the future if demand starts to outstrip supply."

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