FARMERS’ are more optimistic after battling unfair milk price cuts earlier this year but there is still a long way to go, union leaders have said.
Uttoxeter dairy farmers joined colleagues from across the country at Livestock 2012, incorporating the Dairy Event, at Birmingham’s NEC last week to discuss sector issues, see the latest technology and find out more from industry leaders about plans to help bolster the sector.
Former Agriculture Minister Jim Paice, who was replaced in the Cabinet reshuffle by Liberal Democrat David Heath hours after the event, addressed farmers on the Barclays stand about the work being done for the dairy industry and he discussed the voluntary code of conduct, the potential for producer organisations and the EU dairy package.
Mr Paice said the voluntary code of conduct on milk contracts which he helped broker was ‘a major step forward’ for dairy farmers.
The code aims to give farmers and processors security in business relationships, while adding additional safeguards that will assure their contracts are not putting them at a disadvantage in the marketplace.
Mr Paice said: “This has been a pretty remarkable year and no-one wants to go down that route again in the future.
“The last few weeks and months may prove to be a watershed in the development of your sector.
“Now though is not the time to be complacent or to crow but it should be about recognising progress and achievement working together.” Third generation farmer David Brookes, who milks 160 cows at Lower Loxley, was at the event and said the signs were positive.
The National Farmer’s Union (NFU) Uttoxeter and Burton branch chairman said: “We have to feel a lot better than we did three months ago as things are moving in the right direction.
“The dairy coalition’s work has been fantastic putting pressure on where it was needed.
“The processors now need to sharpen their pencils and deliver.
“We have just seen Arla commit to a 29.5ppl price to those in its dedicated supply group and that is fantastic but this needs to be replicated and welcomed across the board.” Farmer Mansel Raymond, NFU dairy board chairman, said: “The NFU and its members have championed the cause of improving dairy contracts and we are now very pleased to be launching this code of best practice.
“Farmers need equitable and trusting relationships with their milk buyers and this can only be achieved by putting in place fair and transparent milk supply contracts.
“Getting this code agreed is the right footing to move forward with the industry on a robust and ambitious strategy for the dairy sector, which is a priority for us.”
The coalition has said it will focus on all areas of the 10 point plan with an emphasis on exposing bad practices, redefining and empowering the farmers’ role in the supply chain and ensuring the chain is transparent and fair.