Now's the time to shape the future of dairy, urges chairman

Michael Oakes, Dairy chairman

In his latest blog, NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes urges dairy farmer members to help shape the future of the sector and engage with the dairy contracts consultation. He writes:

We said at NFU Conference back in February that 2020 could be the year of opportunity for dairy.

Little did any of us know that we’d all be facing a global pandemic and the many challenges that have arisen as a result of it. But as we move into the seventh month of the year, we’ve seen the announcement of the long-awaited dairy contracts consultation and it really is presenting an opportunity to the sector, that I want all of you to take with both hands.

We know problems have existed with fairness in the supply chain and with imbalance of power through contracts for many years – the 2018 Grocery Code Adjudicator review confirmed this to government. So now we have the chance to really make our voices heard and shape the future of the dairy sector through this consultation, I urge you all to stand up and be counted.

The NFU dairy team is arranging countless regional meetings, Q&A sessions with ourselves and with Defra and to hear members views, to shape our consultation response.

:: Find out how you can feed into the dairy consultation here

But what will be crucial is that each and every individual response that our membership can submit to the consultation.

What can seem like 10 minutes of your time filling in the web form actually can have an enormous impact on the future of our sector, for all of us. This isn’t about fixing what is already working. This is about developing positive relationships and principles, increase transparency and balanced risk – and we can all benefit from this.

Already, we are having discussions with industry stakeholders as well as processors and we are all keen to work together to make sure that this consultation produces benefits for all. We will never be able to buck the market with a dairy contract and that isn’t our aim. Our aim is to ensure that there is a future dairy supply chain that is transparent, fair and well-functioning.

We need your help. Many of you reading this will be the most engaged of members and I know we can rely on you to provide an individual consultation response to Defra. But you are also our most valuable advocates.

We need you to pick up the phone, rally the troops and make sure your dairy farming neighbours realise this is important for us all. We want them to attend our regional discussions and shape the consultation response.

Now some of you may have a good relationship with your milk buyer and think that they are doing a good job, therefore may question why we want you to respond to this consultation.

But I am urging everyone, whoever you supply, to provide a consultation response. Because, whilst you may not be directly subject to the unfair actions of a processor, the bad practice of one single processor actually can indirectly, seriously undermine the whole market, so we need your voice as much as much as anyone else’s, to illustrate these points.

Keep in touch with your regional office as well as an eye on the NFU dairy contracts consultation hub here for updates – we look forward to seeing you at the national webinar on July 22.

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