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NFU Says Summer Turmoil Must Not be Repeated

07 November 2012
National Farmers Union

WALES, UK- NFU Wales are preparing to tell the Welsh affairs committee at the House of Commons that the turmoil caused by this summer's dairy price cuts should not be repeated.

The NFU Cymru delegation will include Deputy President Stephen James and Milk Board Chairman Aled Jones.

Stephen James said, “The events of this summer have to be a turning point. The decision of processors to slash milk prices attracted a huge amount of interest and led to headline news – in fact it was only pushed off the front pages by the Olympic Games. Whilst these price cuts have been withdrawn, the long-term sustainability of the industry remains uncertain.

“Whilst we should benefit from very favourable production and market conditions, the dairy sector has been a source of tension on a number of occasions in the last decade. The key problem over many years is that dairy farmers have routinely failed to see prices rise as fast and as high as the dairy commodity markets. Yet, when these same markets fall, the milk price paid to farmers drops like a stone. This is a clear result of the exploitative nature of milk contracts and lack of negotiating power that currently exists.”

“This summer though has to be a turning point. The current supply chain inequities must be resolved. There is real opportunity ahead and if we can get things working properly and fairly then there is real potential for investment to meet higher domestic demand and to export to a growing world market,” Mr James added.

NFU Cymru Milk Board Chairman Aled Jones said, “This summer’s campaign led by dairy farmers to protest against severe cuts to milk prices captured the imagination of the public. The profile generated by the SOS Dairy campaign combined with lobbying by the Dairy Coalition has resulted in some significant progress.

“The activity of the Dairy Coalition this summer has been the key in all of this and the Coalition now seeks to expose bad practices, including non-compliance with the code of best practice on milk contracts and to ensure the supply chain is transparent and fair.

“NFU Cymru has long called for reform to introduce fairer contracts. This has been rewarded by agreement on a voluntary code of best practice on the contractual relationships between milk buyers and dairy farmers. It does offer a number of benefits and protection to farmers, but this is of course subject to effective implementation. Our clear message to the Committee is that the events of 2012 must not be repeated. There is real opportunity to put things right and to do so we need the continued support of MPs,” Mr Jones said.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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