Supporting the promotion of British dairy products around the world

29 December 2023

Michael Oakes

Michael Oakes

NFU Dairy Board chair

Michael Oakes speaking at a conference

In his New Year message, NFU Dairy Board chair Michael Oakes looks at the increasing global demand for dairy and the sector’s needs ahead of the 2024 general election.

After another turbulent 12 months, it is always difficult to predict what the next year will have in store for dairy farmers.

Most people thought the high prices in 2022 wouldn’t last forever, but few expected them to drop down to the levels we have seen. While some input prices have fallen a bit, we know that for many producers the cost of production remains above the farmgate milk price.

‘Crisis of confidence’

Our dairy intentions survey highlighted the crisis of confidence felt by many dairy farmers in 2023, with over 30% of producers unsure whether they will still be producing milk in two years’ time.

However, travelling around the country I meet many hugely committed, progressive farmers producing some of the most sustainable, low emission, high welfare dairy products in the world.

“It is vital that we secure supportive regulatory, trading and environmental frameworks to ensure dairy has a long-term, resilient future.”

NFU Dairy Board chair Michael Oakes

While the scale of investment needed on farm to meet new regulations can be quite daunting, the NFU will continue to lobby government to develop schemes such as the Slurry Infrastructure grant to ensure they are fit for purpose, accessible and support producers to invest.

Growing demand for dairy

With a general election on the horizon, it is critical we have a supportive government in place which recognises the value of a strong domestic agriculture sector to the UK’s food safety and security.

Globally, demand for dairy continues to grow and the UK is well placed to meet this demand. This is why the NFU helped to set up and facilitate the Dairy Export Taskforce, to reduce barriers to trade and improve market access. Dairy was also the only agricultural sector to secure funding to help promote exports at the No.10 Farm to Fork Summit in 2023.

We have since seen the launch of the Dairy Export Programme which aims to support the promotion of British dairy products around the world.

Ahead of the election, we will be lobbying all parties to ensure party manifestos include commitments focused on supporting UK agriculture and food production. It is vital that we secure supportive regulatory, trading and environmental frameworks to ensure dairy has a long-term, resilient future.

I wish you all the best for the New Year and you can guarantee that the NFU will continue to work hard on your behalf.


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