“We can expand, we can compete and we can produce,” the NFU’s dairy board chairman Mansel Raymond said as he launched a strategy for the future of the industry.
Compete to Grow is the vision document which was pledged to the industry during the #sosdairy campaign last year. Along with the introduction of a voluntary code of practice, it puts a stake in the ground over where the opportunities are for British dairy farmers. As its name suggests, the founding principles of the strategy are built on domestic producers being able to take on their foreign counterparts on price. It predicts a bright future for the industry, including the opportunity to produce an additional four to five billion litres of milk.
“With this vision and strategy I want to unite the industry in increasing our domestic production and processing,” Mr Raymond said. “Farmers and processors need confidence in each other’s will and ability to invest and produce what the market wants and seize these opportunities.” Within the document are a number of challenges for the NFU, Defra, DairyCo and Dairy UK. But Mr Raymond said the conditions to thrive could only be created by confidence among dairy farmers. “The only way to instil confidence is through equitable contracts,” he said.
The board’s vice chairman Rob Harrison also spoke at the launch of the document at the Livestock Event on 3 July. He said: “Over the past 12 months we have had some huge changes. That has included some milk price rises and the changing of some milk price formulas. “Investment is vital for the dairy industry and what is key about investment is profitability and confidence that things are going to be good in the future.
“Confidence comes from further up the supply chain so I’m looking for milk buyers and retailers to give positive signals so I know that over the next five to ten years there’s going to be a positive future for dairy businesses.” Mr Harrison helped to put Compete to Grow together along with other members of the dairy board. It suggests that British producers need to see be paid a price that allows for a 3.5ppl capital infrastructure investment. “Growth at farm gate can only happen in conjunction with increased processing capacity,” Mr Raymond added. “While much has been said about investment in liquid milk processing, growth will also require more state-of-the-art processing capacity for other dairy products.
“We believe that to trade globally, you need to compete globally; that’s the basis for Compete to Grow.”