Minister Opens Dairy Event

UK - Farm minister Jim Paice assured visitors he is committed to tackling bovine TB as he opened the Dairy Event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham yesterday.
calendar icon 7 September 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

Mr Paice, who said he is passionate about the dairy industry, said it was a “vibrant strong sector, and an iconic industry with serious challenges to overcome”, as he welcomed the crowds into a busy day of seminars, debates and viewing trade stands.

On the plans to eradicate bovine TB, he assured the visitors to the exhibition that the government was tackling the problem and remains committed to doing so.

He said he was strongly persuaded that there is a case for culling and he added that the the government has received guidance from Natural England on the issue.

The initial consultation on culling of badgers was launched in July and is due to end in three weeks.

Two pilot projects are expected to start next year with licences being issued for a controlled shooting of badgers, although there will be some trapping in areas where shooting badgers is not appropriate.

Mr Paice said he plans to monitor the licence holders' progress anbd has the power to end the programme at any time should it be necessary.

The government is to set a target to have 70 per cent of badgers culled in six weeks in the pilot areas.

He added that licences will be issued for four years with a maximum of 10 licensees a year.

Mr Paice said his vision for dairy farmers in the future was for them to be the most efficient dairy farmers in Europe and to boost British milk production through efficient business management, forecasting, production and being competitive in manufacturing being the top of the agenda.

He said he would also like to see improvements in the sector's bargaining power and called for a voluntary code practice for the industry over contracts.

Mr Paice said: "Processors and manufacturers need to accept there is a problem. The European Dairy Package has limitations, it is not a panacea. The voluntary code of practice has wider scope and can be delivered quicker and in more detail than the EU proposals."

Mr Paice said that Dairy UK and the National Farmers Union are dedicated to working towards a voluntary code and will draw up recommendations for the next forum meeting in November.

"There is plenty of room for the industry to expand to help feed the growing world population, but we need to look further than just liquid milk. We must explore new markets abroad. The industry has a real capacity to work together to revive and recover," Mr Paice said.

Speaking on the key issue of renewable energy, he outline how farmers could be helped to invest in solar, wind and hydro power and set a target of having 40 per cent of farmers investing in the sector over the next 12 months.

Mr Paice also revealed that the residue of the Milk Marketing Board's funds - £176,000 - will be invested in the Dairy Co registration scheme for professional development and improving business performance.

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