A new umbrella association, Dairy Farmers Together (DFT) has been formed by NFU Scotland to build on the industry’s lobbying achievements over the past two weeks and provide a foundation for future Producer Organisations.
The initiative was announced at a passionate rally at Lanark Mart attended by over 500 dairy farmers from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales and the announcement immediately attracted £100,000 of start-up finance from the Scottish Government. The Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) will take the initiative forward.
NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller, Farmers for Action chairman David Handley and countless other speakers appealed to the gathering to continue to stand together to build on the results achieved so far.
Mr Miller said: “Through unity we’ve won back £140 million for the industry and we mustn’t lose the momentum at this stage. We must stick together over the next few weeks because if we don’t we will fail the next generation.”
NFU Scotland Milk Committee Vice Chairman, Rory Christie added: “We need a definitive long term outcome not a series of short term wins. We need to change the whole dairy industry not just a single part so that we don’t have to keep fighting outside processors or retailers depots every time they decide to steal a bit of our livelihood.
“I am sure we can make a difference and drive change through a collaborative organisation that brings together all dairy farmers. The presence of English, Welsh and Northern Irish farmers here today suggests the appetite for change is across the UK. Dairy Farmers Together can be an umbrella organisation that takes nothing away from the individual organisations but instead adds to the strength of the whole.”
The Scottish Government’s rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead earned several standing ovations for his support for the coalition’s achievements to date and his promise to write to all public sector suppliers to ask that they ensure that appropriate and responsible milk sourcing is in place across the whole sector. He also promised to put legislation in place if a voluntary code of practice does not materialise.
But most applause came for his statement that dairy farmers had given society in general a wake-up call.
He said: “We need a national debate about the retail culture in this country because it’s not just the milk industry which is being affected. You have given society a wake up call and you should be proud of what you’ve achieved.”
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