The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers is urging Government to reconsider introducing an Ofmilk, a voluntary milk regulator, in an attempt to redress current milk price trends and inject some long term confidence into the sector.
Discussions have commenced with All Party Parliamentary Group for Dairy Farmers’ chairman, Daniel Kawczynski prior to a meeting scheduled for next month.
“While we fully support the industry’s appeal for a supermarket ombudsman, we believe a specific voluntary milk regulator, an Ofmilk, is more realistic and also necessary to improve price transparency in the dairy food chain, identify available margin and ensure a fair return throughout that supply chain,” said RABDF’s chairman, Lyndon Edwards.
The Association championed the idea for an Ofmilk in 2006 when the OFT indicated it was not adverse to any voluntary initiative to get the dairy market working properly, at least in the short term, and therefore in principle it would not be opposed to such a regulator.
“We have been operating in a free marketplace for 15 years, however after all this time, it obviously is still not working; the UK continues to remain near the bottom of the EU’s milk price league table, and year on year UK average prices are lower than the average EU 15 farmgate price. After a decade of witnessing the milk cost price gap widening and more than 13,000 British producers quit the sector, farmers enjoyed a short lived blip of higher prices which came to an abrupt end in the new year when the market began to spiral downwards. At the same time, we are importing more than a million litres of liquid milk per day, a far from cost effective solution for the industry,” he explained.
“Determining dairy farmer and also processor margins are relatively straight forward, however it continues to be virtually impossible to do that for retailers and foodservice. Therefore, we are calling for an arbiter with access to the participants’ books to improve transparency, identify available margin and ultimately, ensure a fair return throughout the supply chain. We would also welcome a more knowledgeable and potentially more sympathetic hearing for milk industry participants than is currently available.” He adds: “An Ofmilk would provide help, build some confidence and trust in the industry which it drastically needs and stem the unabated decline in farmer producers and subsequent total UK production.”
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