Arla Foods, the country’s leading farmer-owned dairy company, has announced that its British owners will receive £31 million as their 2016 year-end bonus. Arla is owned by over 12,000 dairy farmers across Europe, 2,500 of whom are British and make up almost a quarter of all British dairy farmers.
Once a year, Arla distributes its profits equally between all of its farmer owners in its so-called supplementary (13th) payment. This will be paid as a cash bonus this Friday, 10 March. £7 million of the windfall will be invested into each farmer’s individual savings accounts for each farmer to build up a lump sum should they decide to leave the cooperative.
The 13th payment is equally distributed to all farmer owners; proportionate to the amount of milk they supply rather than based on their equity investment in Arla. This year, the 13th payment is equivalent to an average of almost £9,000 to each Arla farmer across England, Wales and Scotland.
The bonus was agreed by the company’s Board of Representatives, which is almost wholly comprised of elected farmer owners and includes 20 British farmers. In 2017, this will increase to 23 British farmers, reflecting the increasing strength of British farming within the dairy cooperative.
Farmer owner and Arla Foods Board Director, Jonathan Ovens, said: “The 13th payment is one of many important benefits for farmer owners like me and is particularly welcome as we begin to come out of a difficult year. It enables us to invest in our farms, and also save for the future.
“It’s an annual benefit and a return on my investment that I couldn’t achieve elsewhere. It’s good to work together with Arla to back British dairy farming. As we need to increase the country’s milk production to meet growing demand, it’s also reassuring that Arla promises to collect every drop of milk I produce at the Arla price.”