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Stackyard News Nov 06

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Milk Committee Points Way Ahead For Industry

A combination of equitable pricing and a new strategy to grasp market opportunities will provide a future for Scotland’s dairy industry, according to NFU Scotland’s Milk Committee. The Union has also stressed that whilst milk prices have remained unacceptable, other efforts to secure a better return for dairy producers have paid off in 2006.


On prices, NFU Scotland’s recent campaign has harnessed the support of the public. Events at shows and outside supermarkets have reach consumers directly and secured their support. The NFUS strategy is also focussed on helping the dairy industry lift itself out of the current crisis through market development and product innovation. The Milk Development Council is doing work to identify opportunities and is expected to report by the end of the year.

NFUS has also highlighted that a great deal of work this year has benefited dairy farmers. In particular, the successful efforts to lift the beef export ban has delivered a market for dairy bull calves. Likewise, finished cows can now attract a market price of £400-500 a head, compared to an OTM value of just £200. Additionally, the Union’s efforts to avoid a ban on the use of tallow as a renewable fuel is estimated to be worth £10 a head and the ongoing deferral of cattle passport charges is valued at £8 a head.

NFUS Milk Committee Chairman Willie Lamont said:

“There is a great deal of debate from all quarters on how our industry moves forward and we must use that to drive change. We are the most efficient producers in Europe, with 60 million customers on our doorstep. That strength of position is further enhanced if we use every opportunity to group together as farmers to improve our negotiating position. That will help us build fairer and more transparent relationships throughout the supply chain.

“The profile of the difficulties faced by our dairying members has never been higher and we have put other parts of the supply chain under the spotlight. We now have the public on our side, which is how we will change retailers’ behaviour. There is no quick fix on milk price, which makes the other efforts to secure more immediate returns all the more important.”

NFUS Vice President Jim McLaren said:

“Milk price is undoubtedly the single most important factor for dairy producers. However, whilst prices are still totally unacceptable, there have been positive developments outwith that. We worked for years with government to secure the lifting of the beef export ban. From zero value, bull calves now have a market and some older cows will have at least doubled in value. Those developments, on top of avoiding the tallow ban and cattle passport charges, are of huge financial significance to our dairy members.

“I know it is extremely difficult to talk of investment in market development when the milk cheque barely covers costs of production. However, the reason we’re working with other groups, such as MDC, on opportunities is because I firmly believe that we must innovate our way of the current crisis, by turning low value product into added value product. That, combined with pressure on the supply chain to reward innovation, can deliver a future.”

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