NFU President Minette Batters delivered the conference's first presentation in a session entitled ‘Politics, Policy and Partnerships’, before joining a discussion panel alongside Peter Giortz-Carlsen, EVP for Arla Foods and Nicholas Saphir, Chairperson of AHDB.
All three panellists mentioned the importance of strong communication and collaboration across the dairy industry to help ensure the sector is in a strong position to access new and existing opportunities.
In her speech, Minette highlighted the NFU’s work towards creating fairer, functioning supply chains and stressed the need for industry to work better together to access export opportunities – as outlined in the NFU’s Dairy Export Strategy.
Permanent labour solutions needed
She also called for environmental regulation to work alongside profitable, productive dairy farm businesses. She went on to discuss the impact of labour shortages across the dairy sector and the need for permanent labour solutions.
The presentation also covered the dairy markets and the impact of inflation on consumer demand.
Concerns over supply in 2022 helped strengthen farmgate prices in the dairy sector and alleviate some of the impacts of spiralling input costs, although margins remained tight. However, as demand drops off and commodity prices track downward, we are starting to see price drop announcements which are expected to continue as we head towards the flush.
Input cost and inflationary pressure
Minette warned about the pressures producers still face when it comes to input costs and pointed to the 196% rise in fertiliser prices and the 82% rise in red diesel prices since 2019, and also the 50% rise in farm energy costs since 2021.
With no end in sight on inflationary pressures, dairy producers will need farm gate prices to keep pace to prevent production issues materialising later in the year.