Published: 01/08/2012 11:00 - Updated: 01/08/2012 11:25

Dairy farm visit highlights industry crisis

Written byBy Will Clark

The Duke of Rothesay with farmer Dennis Nicolson (left) and NHI chairman David Whiteford in the milk parlour at Sibster.
The Duke of Rothesay with farmer Dennis Nicolson (left) and NHI chairman David Whiteford in the milk parlour at Sibster.

THE Duke of Rothesay concluded his tour of Caithness on Monday with a visit to a dairy farm a few miles south of Wick.

With the current crisis facing the dairy industry, he visited Sibster Farm owned by Dennis Nicolson, who runs one of only two remaining dairy farms in the county.

Over the last few decades, around 30 Caithness dairy farms have gone out of business due to reduced milk prices and their distance from main supply hubs amongst other factors.

During the duke’s visit, Mr Nicolson (63) showed him around his farm where he keeps 100 dairy cattle and explained how he managed to maintain a successful business during difficult times.

Mr Nicolson said it was the first time he had met the duke and the opportunity to introduce him to his family was a tremendous honour.

"He was a very fine man to talk to and even shared a joke which I didn’t expect but really put me at ease," he said.

"During the visit I showed him my cows and took a few in from the field to show how they were milked.

"He seemed to be very interested to find out how the business operated and even took time to speak to my wife and other family members."

Prince Charles along with farmer Dennis Nicolson, his wife, Liz, and David Whiteford (left), chairman of the North Highland Initiative, study some of the dairy herd at Sibster.
Prince Charles along with farmer Dennis Nicolson, his wife, Liz, and David Whiteford (left), chairman of the North Highland Initiative, study some of the dairy herd at Sibster.

In order to prevent the loss of the two remaining dairy farms in Caithness, the North Highland Initiative spearheaded a scheme to create demand for the farms’ produce.

Tain-based Highland Fine Cheeses uses the milk from Sibster Farm for cheese production and representatives from the firm were also present to offer the duke cheese samples.

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