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