A consortium of farmer-owned milk cooperatives has said it has reached a deal to keep the UK's largest farmer-controlled milk processor in business.

Westbury Dairies, a company set up by three farmer-owned cooperatives, said it had secured a deal to lease the Westbury plant after putting in an initial investment of £1m-2m (US$1.7m-3.4m) each, reported Reuters.

"The deal marks a milestone for the UK dairy industry, with the three leading cooperatives, Dairy Farmers of Britain, First Milk and Milk Link, working together in a unique joint venture to secure vital access to intervention markets," a group spokeswoman was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The plant, which has a processing capacity of 2.4 million litres per day, was operated by United Milk until it went into receivership earlier this year. The plant employs 125 people and has an annual turnover of £100m.