Farming Minister Announces Cooperative Grants Initiative

UK - Defra is consulting on new rules aimed at giving dairy farmers a louder voice in the marketplace and more scope for development and cooperation.
calendar icon 12 December 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

This comes in a two headed policy from Farming Minister, David Heath that centres around the introduction of dairy business development grants and new rules designed to give dairy farmers more market presence through cooperation.

Under this initiative, farmers will be able to apply for £25,000 minimum grants from a budget, worth £5 million, which could cover costs to establish new cooperation structures, such as producer groups and cooperatives, and invest in technology to take advantage of new market opportunities.

Defra believes there are great opportunities in both the domestic and export markets as currently the UK imports £1.2 billion more dairy products than it export.

After a tumultuous year for dairy farming this is expected to offer producers more influence over contractual terms, conditions and prices as farmers will be able to sell combined milk to processing companies rather than stand alone as individuals.

“We’ve already got the industry code of practice, and negotiating as groups rather than individuals will give dairy farmers an even louder voice to get their just rewards from the marketplace," said Farming Minister, David Heath.

“Our £5 million dairy fund will also allow producers to develop other means of cooperation and grab business opportunities with both hands.”

Reacting to the government dairy policy proposals Dairy UK Director General, Jim Begg said: “Everyone involved in the negotiations that resulted in the agreement of the Voluntary Code of Practice recognises that the principles set out in the Code provide a strong basis for the future evolution of industry contractual relationships, avoiding the need for regulation.”

“We agree with the Minister’s view that this important initiative now needs time to be put in place and its effects evaluated. It is definitely a constructive way forward for the industry.”

Policy consultation talks have also been started by the Scottish government who are likewise hoping to introduce producer cooperation groups.

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