NFU: Demanding Action For Dairy

UK - Dairy industry representatives present at the National Farmers' Union (NFU) Conference’s breakout session came under fire, with members ordering them to sort out their act.
calendar icon 16 February 2011
clock icon 2 minute read
National Farmers Union

The panel, consisting of Dairy UK’s Jim Begg, Morrisons’ Richard Taylor, First Milk’s Kate Allum and Kite Consulting’s John Allen, together with the NFU’s dairy board chairman Mansel Raymond, answered questions from the floor on several hot topics, including milk prices, the possibility of the UK dairy moving into exports, contracts and dedicated supply chains.

However, their answers went down poorly with members present, who threatened ‘major unrest’ in the future.

One member commented: “My father would turn in his grave if he could see how you are all shafting the UK dairy industry – all we want is a fair share of what we deserve.

“The time for talking has ended and if we don’t do something about this soon we are going to have major unrest.”

Morrisons’ Richard Taylor came under questioning, but didn’t fail to speak his mind – stating that the supermarket was open-minded about purchasing milk from Nocton-style dairies and defending their decision not to endorse dedicated supply chains.

“Morrisons is not convinced that picking winners is the way forward – we want to help the whole industry and not just a few,” he added.

But Mansel Raymond was quick to criticise the supermarket for paying 2.5ppl less than its rivals, and he added that the amount UK farmers are receiving in general is appalling.

“I think it is a disgrace that we are 16th/17th in the price league in the EU marketplace for our milk,” he added.

However, despite tempers running high, the session delivered constructive ideas to help the industry, including the importance of more flexible contracts.

“We need a variation clause in our contracts. We need to take control of our milk prices,” Mr Raymond said.

Moving into exports was perhaps the most agreed upon method of making the industry more competitive. First Milk’s Kate Allum stated that access to international markets would expand the options available to producers.

“We need to be better connected to international markets,” said NFU Director General Kevin Roberts, who chaired the session. “That is part of the problem today, and part of the solution for tomorrow.”

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