At a time when Shropshire’s dairy farmers could do with some good news, there comes a blow which strikes at the very heart of the dairy industry in the county.
Crudgington Creamery has been part of the infrastructure of the rural economy here for many years.
The imposing plant on those crossroads north of Telford has been a visible symbol of the direct connection between the toil of our farmers and the produce which we all eat and drink.
Dairy Crest has announced that it is pulling the plug and will consolidate production of butter and spreads in Liverpool, which is not a place which conjures up mental images of cows and green pastures.
This will be a loss to Shropshire to compare with that of the Allscott sugar beet plant, another of those places on our doorstep which complemented the toil of our farmers for generations.
The Crudgington site employs 161 people. Dairy Crest says it hopes that at least 50 of them will transfer to Merseyside. Good luck to those who choose to do so. It would represent a move which would change everything about their lives. On the face of it, it does not look like a practical proposition for the vast majority.
The closure would be shocking if it were not for the fact that the writing was already on the wall after the production of Clover was moved from Crudgington last year, with 90 local job losses.
It is sad that cold-blooded economics counts for more than the loyalty of the staff who have invested their working lives in the Dairy Crest site.
Shropshire’s rural industries are precious and valued and for a concern of the size and importance of Dairy Crest to jump ship makes this announcement a dark day for this county’s agricultural scene.