Farming leaders discuss challenges facing UK dairy industry
LEADERS of four UK farming unions - NFU Cymru, NFU, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers’ Union — met in Cardiff this week to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the UK dairy industry.
During the two-day meeting they discussed the UK and global market opportunities for UK farmers as well as the continuing challenge and impact of spiralling production costs.
All agreed to continue dialogue with milk buyers and made a commitment to press for the Voluntary Code of Best Practice for Dairy Contracts in Great Britain, and the separate code agreed in Northern Ireland, to be delivered in the form of real improvements to farmers’ contracts.
“Dairy farming is at the heart of the Welsh rural economy, contributing 30 per cent of Welsh agricultural output,” said NFU Cymru’s milk board chairman, Aled Jones.
“Of the 1.5 billion litres of milk produced in Wales, 870 million litres are processed here by more than 40 dairy processors and 90 per cent of this processing capacity is into cheese.
“It is vital that our processors concentrate on adding value to milk and that this value is passed back to farmers to invest in the foundation of this great supply chain,” he added.
“We have seen the benefits of collaborating through the dairy coalition. Now we must work to ensure individual farmers explore ways to collaborate so that the potential of our industry and market is unlocked.”
Rob Harrison, the NFU’s dairy board vice-chairman, said it was clear now was the time for dairy farmers to capitalise on market opportunities.
“Supplies are tight, demand is high and with the voluntary code being implemented farmers should expect the market to deliver on a sustainable price for their milk, one so desperately needed.”
Gary Mitchell, NFU Scotland dairy committee chairman, said, “Now is the time for farmers to collaborate and pull together. Collaboration can take many forms, from working with producer representatives, exploring the opportunities of membership of a producer organisation or joining a co-op.
“The bottom line is that there is strength in numbers and now is the time to work together to optimise returns from the market.”
Ulster Farmers’ Union dairy committee vice-chairman Jonathan Moore added, “While our routes to market may differ, the fundamentals are the same.
“Our milk is in demand and it must be valued accordingly if farmers are to have the confidence to invest in their businesses. Costs are increasing at an alarming rate and farmers cannot absorb them.”