NFU Scotland is urging all dairy farmers to continue to challenge their milk buyer this winter over farmgate milk price prospects.
The call comes after two of the country’s largest milk processors – Robert Wiseman Dairies and Dairy Crest – announced impressive financial figures for the past six months. Another major processor, Arla UK, has also announced plans for the construction of a one billion-litre milk processing site – the largest of its kind in the world – to be built near London for completion in 2012.
Most of the major milk purchasers in Scotland will be represented at AgriScot this week (Wednesday, 18 November). The Union believes that this major event, being held at Ingliston near Edinburgh, will provide an excellent opportunity for farmers to meet with milk processors and seek reassurances that the current surge in wholesale markets for dairy products will very quickly translate into better prices for their milk.
NFU Scotland Milk Committee Chairman Jimmy Mitchell said:
“It is encouraging that major processors operating to the scale and efficiency of Wisemans, Arla and Dairy Crest are able to secure improving returns from a very competitive sector of the food industry. The dairy industry needs strong, vibrant and successful milk processors but, equally, it needs a core of profitable, confident dairy farmers as its foundation.
“On behalf of our members, we have been having a regular and constructive dialogue with all the major milk processors in the UK. With wholesale markets for cream, powders and butter soaring, cheese imports dropping and liquid milk consumption growing, we feel it is high time this was reflected in the prices being paid back to those producing.
“We need those companies enjoying a period of strong profitability and better market returns to take their farmer suppliers with them or run the risk that the frustration being felt at farm level will boil over if better returns fail to make it back to grassroots producers.
“That pressure for a price increase is reaching a peak. Processors and co-ops must react to these positive signals urgently. Increasing prices little and often as the market strengthens is the best way to deliver better cash flow for beleaguered producers and help improve the crisis in confidence to be found on most dairy farms.
“Markets are surging and dairy farmers need to keep challenging their milk purchaser over price prospects. We are doing that on their behalf while a major event like AgriScot also provides farmers with a platform to meet their milk purchaser face-to-face and put the compelling case for an immediate lift in milk prices.”
• Dairy Crest has announced a pre-tax profit for the half-year of £34 million, up from £28.4 million. In its latest six-month interim report, Robert Wiseman Dairies stated that profit before tax rose to £21.0 million from £11.6 million in the same period last year.
• AgriScot will take place at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston on Wednesday, 18 November.
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