Today is World Milk Day – but how many of us actually think where our milk comes from and how many products include milk as an ingredient? The NFU's chief dairy adviser, Sian Davies, writes:
Our 9,579 dairy farmers in England and Wales work hard to produce milk to satisfy the domestic and export market. We’re now fighting through a prolonged period of low milk prices, with the average milk price last month the lowest for over seven years. These price falls have happened as a direct result of falling global commodity prices and external factors, including the Russian ban on imports and reduced purchasing by China and Middle Eastern countries.
There is no doubt that the downturn in the global dairy market is the main cause of the current situation. However milk has also been at the forefront of the UK retail price war, the full effect of which cannot be easily understood due to the commercial sensitivity of processor- retailer negotiations. In the long term, this discounting devalues the product and could cause serious damage to the industry if there is not enough value left to be passed down the supply chain.
There has been significant progress over the last year with retailers declaring that they are paying a sustainable price to farmers. The NFU believes it is vital that foodservice and public procurement ensure that they are also sourcing British dairy products sustainably.
Despite these difficult and challenging times, British dairy farmers have been leading the way on the environment – meeting challenging targets on sustainability and continuing to demonstrate first class animal health and welfare on farm.
Consumers can be confident that farmers are doing their utmost to ensure the health and welfare of their dairy cows and there’s no better day to celebrate that than on World Milk Day. Farmers across the country will be showcasing their #happycows - after all a happy cow makes a happy farmer. It’s as simple as that!
Read more of our blogs from expert NFU staff here