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Huge Turnout at Lanark Dairy Rally

Group to take forward dairy farmer collaboration

More than 500 dairy farmers from across the UK rallied behind the urgent need for dairy farmers to get a fairer milk price and for dairy farmers themselves to secure a stronger negotiating position in the future through collaboration.

Farmers from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland attended the rally, held today (30 July) in Lanark Market.  Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead and fellow Dairy Coalition partners, Farmers For Action also addressed the meeting, arranged by NFU Scotland.

In recent weeks, milk price cuts proposed by the milk processors Wiseman Muller, Arla and Dairy Crest created an unprecedented level of anger and frustration amongst dairy farmers. The proposed cuts, although rescinded on Friday, came on top of price cuts previously imposed on farmers earlier this summer.

The price threat sparked concerted action by the Dairy Coalition – which includes NFUS, NFU England and Wales, NFU Cymru and Farmers For Action - at processors and supermarkets up and down the country.  This generated a huge wave of consumer support behind calls for farmers to receive a fair price for their milk. 

In addition driving forward milk prices, NFU Scotland is looking to develop collaboration between farmers to improve their negotiating position and has launched a ‘Dairy Farmers Together’ initiative to help dairy farmers to collaborate.  That will also enable groups to maximise any benefits that a new voluntary code of conduct for the sector, to be negotiated in August, may deliver.  That collaborative drive is to be supported by £100,000 from Scottish Government.

Speaking at the meeting, NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:
“The Dairy Coalition deserves immense credit for what it has achieved in a few short weeks.  We have gone from a position of retailers having no money in the kitty for milk and processors planning cuts to a stage where farmers are on a better footing. 

“However, that is just the start and work now begins to drive milk prices to a level this autumn where dairy farming families can start investing in their businesses and planning for a future that involves milking cows.  That is what the general public clearly expect processors and retailers to help deliver.  

Commenting on the need for greater collaborative strength and the support to be provided by a new dairy farmer umbrella group called Dairy Farmers Together, NFU Scotland Milk Committee Vice Chairman, Rory Christie said:
 
“The past two weeks of action must galvanise producers into working together to strengthen their hand in the supply chain. Part of the long-term solution lies in better collaboration between farmers themselves if we are to avoid being back manning the barricades in the future.  Having Scottish Government support to examine all options is a tremendous boost to taking this sector forward.

“We need a definitive long term outcome not a series of short term wins. We need to change the whole dairy industry not just a single part so that we don’t have to keep fighting outside processors or retailers depots every time they decide to steal a bit of our livelihood.

“I am sure we can make a difference and drive change through a collaborative organisation that brings together all dairy farmers.  The presence of English, Welsh and Northern Irish farmers here today suggests the appetite for change is across the UK.   Dairy Farmers Together can be an umbrella organisation that takes nothing away from the individual organisations but instead adds to the strength of the whole.

“I am sure we can make a difference and drive change through a collaborative association, one that can bring together dairy farmers and their groups, one that can create a dairy industry pricing process that is stable and transparent and one that means we can hand our farms to the next generation in a much better state than they are now.” 

Notes to editors

  • Dairy Farmers Together (DFT) is looking to use partners within the UK to develop collaboration between individual dairy farmers and groups of producers, to achieve the following:

- Deliver a milk price that underpins profitable dairy farming.
- To strengthen and grow co-operation in the dairy sector.
- To address and improve the effectiveness of existing producer representative bodies, including co-ops and directs supply groups.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 79/12


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