Looking ahead to 2022 – Michael Oakes, Dairy

First published: 20 December 2021

Michael Oakes with dairy cows in the background

As 2021 draws to a close, your board Chairs look ahead to a new year. Michael Oakes, Chair of the Dairy board, considers what lies in store for 2022.

This year, after many years of NFU lobbying, we finally achieved the announcement that the new Dairy Contracts Code of Conduct will be developed, an enormous opportunity to drive fairness in the supply chain.

We have certainly seen a greater thrust of collaborative efforts this year, which I am exceptionally proud to be a part of. This is evidenced through the UK Dairy Roadmap initiative and our launching of a dairy climate ambition, outlining our commitment to greater sustainability across the supply chain.

Communicating with the consumer

For 2022, I am keen to see this work accelerated, supporting farmers to make steps towards net zero and ensuring the ongoing efforts of our sector are communicated to the consumer.

We will be driving forward our flagship Dairy Export Strategy in 2022. We, of course, need government backing to fly the flag for dairy across the world, and we need investment into our businesses at all levels to enable us to become more innovative and resilient; we are making strides towards this.

Options and opportunities

MP visits are already planned for 2022, as are meetings with the highest levels of Defra and the Department for Trade, and ensuring the future sustainability and profitability of our sector will of course be on the agenda. For that, our members need options and opportunities.

2022 will see us heading towards the conclusion of the Dairy Calf Strategy workstream – an enormous success in the drive towards the elimination of routine euthanasia of calves on farm.

The strategy is working to ensure support for farmers in meeting the aims and in protecting reputations, crucial when misinformation is so rife.

Message of unity

Ultimately, we are calling for a joined-up approach from government in developing domestic policy. The intertwined nature of our sector means that no single policy can be developed in isolation so we will continue to make asks with this overarching message of unity.

We need ministers and industry to stand shoulder to shoulder in ensuring sustainability for the future, enabling us to achieve our goals and continue to provide nutritious and high-quality dairy products to all.

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