2015-07-24   facebooktwitterrss

Professionalism will Open Doors for Dairy Farmers

Increasing the level of professionalism within the dairy industry will help open doors to new markets and reduce risk. This was the message from two Dairy Pro seminars held at the Livestock Event at which the value of training, skills and engagement to food-producing businesses was explored.

Nicola Turner and Peter Savidge from organic milk co-operative OMSCo first described how empowering their farmer members to work closely with the business – and each other – had been important in securing vital export and added-value markets for organic milk over the past eight years.

OMSCo’s Nicola Turner explains how its farmer members have used attitude and aptitude to secure critical new markets

OMSCo’s Nicola Turner explains how its farmer members have used attitude and aptitude to secure critical new markets

She explained: “We worked with a group of our farmers to produce milk to the specific French AB organic standard, as organic demand in France remained strong despite the recession.

“We also identified the opportunity to become the only European USDA certified organic dairy producer and sell branded and non-branded dairy products to the fast growing US market. All these opportunities have been critical in securing a sustainable return to our members.”

While working on the technical requirements, Peter found that although the farmers needed a reason to change, an opportunity to be part of a wider success story was just as much motivation as receiving direct financial benefits.

“We held meetings, challenged them to come up with the solutions, then stood back,” said Peter. “We learned that we needed to let the farmers control the change, and we had to communicate regularly and make them feel part of something special. They came up with their training and technical requirements and we supported and responded when needed.”

In markets closer to home, John Taylerson of Taylerson’s Malmesbury Syrups outlined why, in a food-producing business, professionalism isn’t a state of mind but a state of work.

“As dairy farmers, it may not be front-of-mind but you are producing something people put inside themselves every day. That carries a certain responsibility – and a certain risk. As a processor of food into finished products, I have to demonstrate not just competency and capability, but also processes and safeguards that make the product both marketable and
worth paying more for.”

John, who took a premium product from launch to listings in the John Lewis Food Hall in Oxford Street and Bluewater within 11 months, commented that as supply chains became more aligned, farmers would be increasingly visible, scrutinised and regulated.

“Those who have an influence on food safety and security will expect you to be ever-more competent, competitive and able to adapt and innovate. It’s not good enough to just think of yourselves as professionals; you have to demonstrate it in everything you do. The better we get at this, the better our products and our marketability – and the less we are threatened by imports and developing markets.”


Related Links
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link Scottish Dairy Farmers Face Another Blow
link Irish Holstein Friesian Association National Open Day
link Beef Industry Gets ‘Beefed Up’ with 1% Growth

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