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Stackyard News Oct 06

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Dairy Farmers Should Be Valued More

The Tenant Farmers Association is using its presence at the South West Dairy Show at the Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet to argue that dairy farmers are being undervalued and that more should be done to recognise their value to our nation.


dairy cows

TFA National Chairman Reg Haydon said “When I started milking in the Arun Valley in the South Downs there were nearly 30 dairy farms within walking distance of my farm. Sadly there are only two of us left. The others have been pushed out by low prices, rising costs, increasing regulation and long hours of hard work. The South Downs landscape and ecology has been created by centuries of grazing and by farmers with an intimate knowledge of the land. We are losing that natural management at an alarming rate”.

“This is a picture which is repeated throughout the country and we are now trying to replace traditional livestock management with new environmental schemes attempting to emulate those management practices to a greater or lesser degree of success. What is clear is that it is extremely difficult and costly to put back what we have already lost” said Mr Haydon.

“Dairy farming in Britain has been a traditional land use for centuries. We have one of the best climates in the world for producing milk and we have the ability to create a vast range of dairy products from liquid milk to hard cheddars, soft unpasteurised cheeses, yoghurts and traditional creams. Yet we still import vast quantities of dairy products from abroad adding to our food miles and causing us climate problems through increased carbon emissions. It makes no sense” said Mr Haydon.

“The nub of the problem is the milk price received by producers. It simply comes nowhere near to matching the value dairy farmers bring to our nation. Dairy farmers would be happy with the long hours and the increasing regulation if they were only to receive a fair price for their milk. The unhappy reality is there is little or no return to farmers based on past capital expenditure let alone providing sufficient for future investment. When plant needs to be renewed or changed because of new regulations there simply aren’t the resources to do it and that is when people fall out of the sector” said Mr Haydon.

Taking an average four-pint carton of milk sold through a supermarket, only about one-third of the retail price goes to the farmer. Processors and retailers cream off two-thirds of the price. Over recent years while producer margins have been falling, processors have been able to maintain their margins and retailers have seen increased margins.

“The supply chain with a small number of retailers and processors is stacked against the relatively small dairy farmer. We believe that dairy farmers should be receiving at least half of the current retail price for the work that they do. We know this will not be delivered through the current structures which is why we have been calling for a statutory dairy regulator to ensure that all parts of the supply chain receive a fair return” said Mr Haydon.

link The Dairy Event builds on success
link Dairy Industry Needs Strong Regulator
link British Friesian bloodlines to the fore at Carlisle

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Tenant Farmers Association
Tenant Farmers Association