First Milk Academy Invests in Professional Development for Members

Dairy co-operative First Milk has announced significant expansion for its professional development scheme, First Milk Academy, with 50% (1,250) of its members being actively involved by 2011. This year will also see the introduction of the fifth and sixth Professional Development Workshop modules.
The First Milk Academy is a professional development scheme, aimed at equipping farmer members with relevant new skills and knowledge. Over the next six months, First Milk will introduce a number of new initiatives with the aim of increasing ongoing participation to half of its 2,500 members by 2011.

With Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) a key consideration for many farmers, First Milk is in the advanced stages of arranging a series of one-day workshops for its members, which will clarify farmers' understanding of the new NVZ rules and help them to implement practical changes to ensure compliance, such as better use of existing facilities and reducing the amount of dirty water around farm buildings.

First Milk Academy has two forms of development. The Academy Business Clubs provide a forum for members to share best practice within an agenda set by the members in each club and these are run in partnership with DairyCo.

Professional Development Workshops are more formal and run in conjunction with The Royal Agricultural College, Scottish Agricultural Colleges and Kingshay Farming Trust. There are currently four modules: Herd Fertility, Lameness Prevention, Good Environmental and Agricultural Practice and Business Management. In 2009, two further workshop modules will be introduced and when members complete all six, they will achieve formal recognition with a Graduate Diploma in Dairy Management.

In addition, First Milk aims to increase the frequency and participation levels in the Academy Business Clubs. By March 2009, 50 clubs will have been created, usually meeting four times a year.

Tom Campbell, First Milk Academy Chairman, says: "I believe that the concept of the First Milk Academy is unique within the agricultural industry and is already delivering tangible benefits to our members by building upon our success to date. By encouraging more of our members to reap the benefits of being part of Britain's largest dairy co-operative, we will ensure that First Milk farmers remain among the most efficient in the world.

"As a highly regulated industry and with input costs expected to remain volatile in 2009, the Academy is more important than ever as a centre for excellence, increased efficiency and measurable achievement."


Editor's Notes

For more information please contact:
Jill Coyle, Communications Manager


0141 847 6884 or

About First Milk:

  • First Milk is the largest dairy farmer co-operative in the UK. Its members' farms stretch from Central Scotland to the South of England and from West Wales to East Anglia
  • The business has three divisions: Milk Operations; Cheese; and Ingredients.
  • Milk Operations handles approximately 1.7 billion litres of milk per annum from around 2,500 producers. This milk is supplied to First Milk's cheese business and to many of the leading names in the industry
  • The First Milk Cheese Company is the largest UK-based cheese supplier
  • First Milk's Ingredients business supplies a range of customers with milk powder and whey products for functional foods, protein drinks, pro-biotics, pre-biotics, pharmaceutical, bakery and confectionary products