Success claimed for dairy sector's Voluntary Code on 1st anniversary
The dairy sector's Voluntary Code, designed to give dairy farmers a fairer deal, has been hailed as a success by the chairman of the NFU's South West regional dairy board.
Speaking on the eve of the South West Dairy Show, which is being held today at Shepton Mallet, Rob Harrison said the fact that 85% of the industry had signed up showed that positive changes could be made if milk producers spoke with one voice.
It is the first anniversary of the code being introduced.
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"The fundamental role of the NFU is to improve the environment in which our members trade and work to ensure a fairer and functioning market place – and we continue to work tirelessly to achieve this across the dairy sector as part of the Dairy Coalition," said Mr Harrison.
"When it comes to milk pricing, what we need to see is more transparency and more communication about why prices are or aren't moving. This will help build trust among our dairy members and increase their faith that milk prices will be fair and determinable. It will also encourage producers and processors to take advantage of market opportunities."
Mr Harrison, who farms at Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire, added: "UK supermarkets continue to demand more for less, and with market prices now at an all-time high they should realise that if they want a secure supply, both now and in the future, they must pay a fair price to their farmers for all dairy products.
"If retail customers don't play ball, processors need to take advantage of the strong market conditions that exist elsewhere."
He said dairy farmers were still recovering from "an horrendous" 12 months.
The NFU "Compete to Grow" strategy, which was launched at the Livestock Event earlier this year, set out a vision for putting the dairy industry into the best shape to face the challenges and opportunities of growing global dairy demand – and identified a real need for investment in UK dairy farmers in order to maintain competitiveness and be in strong place to face the challenges of the future. he insisted.
Mr Harrison added: "The industry's success relies upon farmers working together and not squabbling among themselves. There are much bigger challenges ahead of us – and we must remain united to face them."
The code emerged from the SOS Dairy campaign launched by the Dairy Coalition, made up of farming unions in England, Wales and Scotland, the Tenant Farmers' Association, Women's Food & Farming Union, Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, and (at that stage) Farmers For Action.
Today's show at the Royal Bath & West of England Showground continues to provide the dairy farmer and farm manager with a complete one-stop shop event to meet the milk buyers, feed suppliers, AI companies and consultants, and it showcases an extensive display of agricultural machinery and equipment. Dairy cattle are at the heart of the show with 300 entries going before the judges, covering the six main breeds.
The show is open from 8.30am to 5pm.