Dairy cows(c) FLPA/Rex

British dairy farmers must have emergency help and long-term support, politicians have urged.

A group of MPs from all parties dedicated to dairy have set out a 9-point plan to make the sector succeed.

After the six evidence sessions, the Sustainable Competitiveness of the UK Dairy Industry report was unveiled in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday (4 March).

See also: Farmer’s strategy to thrive in post-quota era

The MPs’ action plan was:

  1. The EU must raise the intervention milk price. This would send a strong signal to the market and stabilise prices.
  2. Industry efforts to build new tools to lessen the effect of volatility, such futures trading, should be supported.
  3. The government should explore the practicality of extending the remit of the groceries code adjudicator further down the chain, to indirect suppliers such as farmers.
  4. The government must do more to open new foreign markets for British dairy products.
  5. UK politicians should support the European Commission in forging new free-trade agreements with other world regions.
  6. Parliament and government should get behind industry-wide efforts to promote milk and dairy products. The department of health should also recognise dairy’s nutrititional benefits.
  7. Dairy consumption should be encouraged from a young age, backed up by positive messages in school food standards.
  8. Clear country-of-origin labelling is essential, so shoppers can easily find British milk, cheese, butter and other dairy products.
  9. Public procurement guidelines should encourage councils, schools, hospitals and government departments to buy British dairy products.

How the industry reacted to the report

NFU dairy board chairman Rob Harrison said: “The reports alone are not going to deliver a fairer, more sustainable dairy industry – we all need to take ownership and ensure the UK dairy industry can compete and prosper post quotas.”

Dairy UK chairman Billy Keane said: “Collaborative work throughout the dairy supply chain will be key to ensuring a sustainable and competitive future for British dairy.”

Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers chairman Ian Macalpine said: “As the report infers, we need the whole dairy supply chain to work together, from government giving its support and accepting its responsibilities, to retailers offering a realistic price for milk, because all evidence shows consumers value milk and dairy produce and are subsequently prepared to pay more, which in turn will result in the necessary profitability dairy producers need for a sustainable farming business.”