NFU AGM REPORT - Action Plan for Dairy Sector

UK - The British dairy industry is taking action to address the short term pressures in the market.
calendar icon 18 February 2009
clock icon 2 minute read
National Farmers Union

The new action plan was launched at the National Farmers Union and conference in Birmingham this week.

Dairy UK has published The White Paper 2009 which outlines the future of the industry.

Dairy UK director general Jim Begg said: "Although times are challenging at the start of 2009, in the longer term the signs are good. Commercial prospects are strong, with a weak pound helping our exporters and strengthening the domestic market.

"Globally, the supply and demand balance will return to our favour again."

He called for a positive view of the future.

"Factors depressing milk output are short term, including price volatility and a shortage of replacement heifers.

"Industry is working to tackle the former through consolidation and innovation, while the heifer numbers are on the up again."

Mr Begg called for more balanced regulation and a softer touch on consolidation and more research and development.

The White Paper has now been sent to the environment secretary Hilary Benn.

During the NFU's conference, the Dairy Team launched their action plan for the survival of British dairying.

Dairy farmers were given their first glimpse of the plan during the breakout session at this year’s NFU conference yesterday (Monday) and NFU dairy board chairman Gwyn Jones is keen to point out the sector has a bright future providing steps are taken to build farmers’ confidence and avoid a real erosion of critical mass.

"There are many reasons to be positive about the future of dairying," he said.

"Firstly the global demand for dairy products continues to grow, in fact it is predicted to double by 2050, and closer to home there is the growing interest consumers are showing in buying quality, British produce. There are also the beginnings of some proper supply chain relationships and increasing levels of product innovation

"However, the ability of dairy farmers to stand back and appreciate that the long term prospects for their industry are positive is understandably very difficult when faced with some very significant short-term challenges including TB, NVZs, high and volatile input costs, and unstable milk prices. The consequences mean there is a lack of confidence, low levels of investment and expansion, and high numbers of farmers are leaving the industry which in turn leads to falling milk production.

"The NFU survival plan shows leadership to the supply chain by identifying remedies and solutions to some of these challenges. However we cannot be naïve to some of the very real burdens affecting dairy farmers’ confidence. I hope the plan is received positively by the industry and that each part of the chain is ready and willing to play its part in building confidence and boosting supply."

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