Farmers Demand Fairer Dealings With Milk Buyers

WALES, UK - Carmarthenshire National Farmers Union (NFU) Cymru dairy farmer members questioned the total discretion that milk buyers currently have to make fundamental changes to the terms and conditions of milk contracts at a well-attended on farm meeting held recently at Cwrt Malle, Llangynog, courtesy of Howell and Susan Richards and family.
calendar icon 10 October 2011
clock icon 3 minute read
National Farmers Union

Speaking at the meeting, NFU Chief Dairy Adviser Rob Newbery said: “The NFU has been lobbying long and hard on the need for fundamental changes to the terms and conditions of trade between dairy farmers and their milk buyers and the NFU is committed to working with the rest of the supply chain to achieve fair and equitable dairy contracts. We need to see a shift away from milk buyers having the unilateral discretion to make fundamental changes to business terms, such as price and pricing schedules, without any proper consultation or transparency.”

Mr Newbery added, “The NFU is continuing to fight hard for improvements to milk supply contracts that will drive lasting change in the relationship between milk buyers and the dairy farmers who produce the milk. The European Commission High Level Group, EFRA Select Committee and a recent DairyCo report on Asymmetric price transmission in the dairy supply chain have all pinpointed to the weak negotiating position of dairy farmers as a result of the nature of current milk supply contracts.”

“Following the publication by the European Commission of proposals for legislation on milk contracts, Defra Minister Jim Paice has challenged the dairy industry to agree a voluntary code of contractual best practice and the NFU has accepted this challenge.”

Carmarthenshire NFU Cymru County Chairman and local dairy farmer Rosemary Jones said: “Welsh dairy farmers have experienced significant increases in the costs of producing milk with massive rises in feed, fuel and fertiliser costs over the last year." "Unfortunately we have not seen any significant rise in the farm-gate milk price in spite of milk buyers benefitting from the higher prices being received on both domestic and global markets for dairy products such as butter, cream and powder. With this increased value of milk and dairy commodities coupled with the increasing demand both globally and domestically our dairy farmers should be thriving at the present time, but in reality we continue to struggle as an industry from continuing under investment and low profitability.”

Mrs Jones added: “To my mind the reason we continue to struggle is down to the failure of milk purchasers to pay a fair and sustainable milk price to dairy producers."

"Whilst I’m heartened that the European Commission, EFRA Select Committee and Defra Minister Jim Paice have recognised that dairy farmers are being exploited in the marketplace we desperately need immediate action to introduce more balance and fairness in milk supply contracts."

"If the dairy industry cannot find a way forward to agree on a voluntary code of contractual best practice then we will not shy away from calling on the government to intervene to back our dairy farmers and ensure that they get a fair deal.”

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