Dairy supply chain needs to work

The UK farming unions are calling on the whole supply chain to maximise the return to dairy farmers who continue to lose money daily.

Despite a slight turn in the market, with AMPE/MCVE indicators up 24 per cent this month, dairy farmers continue to suffer a loss with recent milk price increases from processors not going far enough to assist them.

Last week, dairy officials from NFU Scotland, NFU, NFU Cymru and the Ulster Farmers Union, met to discuss the key issues currently facing dairy farmers across the country.

Whilst the unions accepted the commercial competitive challenges of milk processors, retailers and other end users are intense, they are asking them to seriously and genuinely reflect on the pressures primary producers are under.

The officials also agreed to work together to achieve more effective price transmission, margin insurance, future and fixed pricing, more effective professional farmer representation, and a much stronger assurance that contracts between producers and processors are fair.

In a joint statement, the UK farming unions said: “We hear platitudes that processors and end users have sympathy for producers’ plight, and some will be genuine, but the speed in reflecting positive market increase in value is not quick enough, particularly in the current exceptional circumstances.

“Actions speak much louder than words and all the UK farming unions ask of the supply chain is to seriously and genuinely consider the long term damage and consequences of a not delivering much more back to primary producers.

“Farmers do not want to hear individual processors, their farmer representatives or retailers, defending or justifying the pace of price movement.”

“What they want to hear is a genuine and collective assurance, backed by price increases, from all in the supply chain, that primary production is a fundamental requirement to their business and to consider the impact and consequences on the primary sector.

“We ask the supply chain to reflect on the need to raise the bar and to consider the impact on their business if their income did not match costs for long periods.

“Dairy farmers are asking themselves and their families if the supply chain values them and we are putting pressure on responsible processors, retailers and other end users to consider how they can collectively, and without any compromise on legal requirements, move away from the current destructive short-term culture towards a position where all efficient, progressive businesses can prosper.

“It is essential the supply chain reflects on whether it is sustainable to ‘be competitive’ based on the ability to drive the primary sector into the ground and effectively reducing the supply base in the UK to a dangerously low level. The crisis is not over, and all in the dairy supply chain have a reason to take collective action now and for the future.”