Farm Contracts Put Top of Unions' Agenda15 November 2012
UK - Representatives of the UK farming unions - NFU Scotland, NFU, NFU Cymru the Ulster Farmers’ Union have met in Cardiff to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the UK dairy industry.
During the two-day meet, dairy representatives 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.
This arises out of the continuing challenge farmers have from spiralling production costs.
Following the meeting, NFU Scotland Milk Committee Chairman, Gary Mitchell 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 to ensure producer confidence.
"Costs are increasing at an alarming rate and farmers cannot absorb them.”
The Welsh Union stresses the importance of contract imrovements to the economic fortunes of the Welsh agricultural sector as a whole. Around 870 million litres of milk is processed by more than 40 dairy processors and 90 per cent of this processing capacity is into cheese. NFU Cymru emphasise that processors must concentrate on adding value to milk and that the price is then to farmers meaning the supply chain is safeguarded.
Rob Harrison, NFU dairy board vice chairman, said, “It is clear to me that now is the time for dairy farmers to capitalise on market opportunities. Supplies are tight and demand is high. Speaking at the event, Mr Harrison added,"With the Voluntary Code of Best Practice for Dairy Contracts being implemented farmers should expect the market to deliver on a sustainable price for their milk; one that they so desperately need.”
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