Last year was dominated by uncertainty for the dairy sector. Market, Brexit and regulatory uncertainty left many farmers in limbo. The most significant area has been the liquid milk market in particular, which has seen big implications for dairy farmers, such as those affected by the Tomlinson’s closure or the Muller changes.
For the NFU Dairy Board, it has been a busy year pursuing issues, such as dairy contracts, net zero, clean air strategy and labour, and the political uncertainty around Brexit has been particularly frustrating.
And in 2020, it will be another year dominated by political turmoil, but life goes on in the dairy sector, and cows will still be milked. On the positive side, we are seeing some encouraging figures around consumption of dairy products, particularly cheese and yoghurt. Despite the noise around veganism, it is clear that the British public still love dairy, and we are in a great position to provide for them.
We could also see 2020 becoming a turning point on the arguments surrounding ruminant agriculture. Many people are waking up to the benefits and livestock sustainability and challenging back against those who denigrate the sector.
The NFU has a massive role to play in this, particularly with our net zero ambition, which will be a key focus for us this year. We will also be working hard to find solutions to the issues we have seen in the liquid milk market.
Our Dairy Board is developing a plan of action and some key asks of government and industry to ensure that we do not continue a cycle of unsustainable volatility in the dairy sector.
Hear more from our board and forum chairman on their plans for 2020 below: