MAY 11 will be a sad day for Robert Macintyre and his family when an on-farm sale will see 195 years of farming on his Dunallan farm come to an end.

Said Robert: “Yes it will be sad. William Macintyre started farming here in 1822 and it’s been in our family's hands ever since. Our Dunallan Friesian herd is one of the oldest established herds in the country.

“I didn’t resign from First Milk because I am retiring from farming altogether and knew I wouldn’t be milking cows come August," said Robert. "The move has to an extent been forced on us. My eldest son Robert who is 44 was all set to carry on milking the cows and gave up a good job with Caterpillar to come and take over the reins. That was in November 2013 when we were getting 32p per litre.

"Things were looking good and we were all set to expand when things came crashing down a year later. The price fell to just 16p. We also faced a 2p levy to save First Milk from going bust. The co-op survived but we were bust. Robert is now living in Newcastle and has a job which sees him travel the world – who would blame him?

“One mistake I did make was to take out a partnership tenancy with Bute Estate in 2001," added Mr McIntyre. "We needed a new shed. The estate put it up and paid for it, tying our hands.

“Our story is a sorry one but we are not alone. The dairy situation on Bute has reached crisis point. There are now just nine producers left, all of whom have resigned from First Milk and are trying to find a new home for their milk.

“Things could have been so different if Kate Allum, then chief executive of First Milk, hadn’t taken the decision to close the creamery in July 2010. But it’s still there, employing 35 people and producing vegan cheese made from soya. How galling is that?"