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Union Throws Down Challenge on Milk to UK Industry

Call to lose ‘island’ mentality and adopt strategy for growth

NFU Scotland has used the UK’s largest dairy event to challenge the nation’s dairy sector to adopt a strategy for growth and development and capture a share of burgeoning and profitable global dairy markets.

Speaking at the two-day Dairy Event in Birmingham today (Tuesday, 6 September), NFU Scotland’s Milk Committee Chairman, Kenneth Campbell said the status quo is not an option as it has simply delivered poor milk prices, falling production and a growing trade deficit in dairy products.

He said producers were committed to being part of a vibrant and thriving dairy sector here in the UK but that required a more positive and long-term mindset being adopted by all parts of the dairy supply chain.

Speaking from the platform at dairy debates organised by NFUS, Mr Campbell said:

“The global dairy industry is going to change enormously in the next few years.   The challenge for the whole UK industry is are we going to lose our island mentality and grab a piece of this growth for ourselves?  Or are we going to continue to stagnate, give up market share to others and watch as the rest of the world expands to satisfy the increased demand for dairy produce?

“We urgently need a strategy for growth in our dairy sector and that is a markedly different place from where we are right now.  We are currently 60 percent self sufficient in milk and dairy products in the UK and our dairy farmers are receiving the worst milk price in Europe.  There are nations that are approaching 110 percent in self-sufficiency terms and their producers are receiving 4 to 6p per litre more than here.  That shows what can be achieved.

“At NFUS, we have a vision of a vibrant, evolving and expanding UK dairy industry.  We have the climate, the technical knowledge, the efficiency and the enthusiasm.  All we require as producers is a pricing mechanism that gives us the confidence to invest, expand and improve the industry.

“Since the spring we have discussed with producers, processors and retailers the need for a more formulaic system for pricing milk.  Something that would deliver a fair, transparent, market-related price that is on level terms with prices being paid in Europe and give UK producers the confidence to move forward.  That is an approach to pricing that accepts that it brings both risks as well as rewards.

“It is also an approach that recognises that any commercial solution must also be to the benefit of milk processors if it is to benefit us as producers.

“What is abundantly clear is that the status quo is neither justifiable nor sustainable for the UK dairy sector.

“Industry must wake up to the fact that there will be political solutions delivered at a European level to fix this – strengthening producer organisations, compulsory contracts and more are all on the European agenda. We can divert our energies into using them if we have to but we would rather see a positive, commercial solution agreeable to everyone in the UK dairy sector – producers, processors, and retailers - to allow the industry to move forward as one.

Notes to Editors

  • The National Dairy Event is being held at the Birmingham NEC, on September 6 and 7.
  • On Tuesday, September 6, NFU Scotland hosted “The Great Dairy Debate -Opportunity - Take it or lose it?”  The debates were chaired by dairy industry commentator Ian Potter and included NFU Scotland Milk Committee Chairman, Kenneth Campbell; Chief Executive of First Milk, Kate Allum and Director General of Dairy UK, Jim Begg.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 151/11


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