AN INFLUENTIAL alliance of farming groups has thrown its weight behind proposals for a single milk selling agency.

The alliance was formed at the Royal Show in July to fight for a fair milk price.

It has released a statement setting out a public, practical and political approach to achieve that aim.

The approach includes the backing of lobby group Farm‘s Just Milk campaign and the establishment of the single milk agency.

ALLIANCE MEMBERS

• Farmers Union of Wales
• Farmers For Action
• Small Farms Association
• Farm

The Royal Association of
British Dairy Farmers also
backs the broad aims of
the alliance

The agency was first proposed by Farmers For Action chairman, and alliance member, David Handley and it is seen by the alliance as key to improving the negotiating position of dairy farmers.

“The single milk agency would address one of the major factors that drives down farmgate prices,” the statement says.

“Only a relatively small proportion of milk is processed into commodity items such as skimmed milk powder (SMP). This low, “utility” price sets the tone of the market,” the alliance statement  adds.

“The majority of milk that producers supply is destined for markets that are branded as fresh, regional or otherwise value-added.”

The alliance believes that a milk agency would allow some distinction in the supply chain to ensure producers benefit from the profits currently enjoyed by processors and retailers.

In the coming months the alliance intends to take the first steps towards delivering an agency by securing an independent feasibility study to determine its viability.

Meanwhile the public and political elements of the alliance’s drive for a fair milk price are founded on Farm‘s Just Milk campaign.

The campaign has targeted Tesco specifically because it is the market leader.

Through its collective strength the alliance hopes to gain greater exposure for the campaign.

It aims to use that exposure to engage the consumer in the plight of the dairy farmer so shoppers increase pressure on Tesco to ensure that dairy farmers get a fair price, the statement says.

The increase in public awareness and concern has created the right climate to increase awareness and action within political circles, the alliance says.

This will be used as a foundation on which to base demands for action from politicians to address the dire situation facing British dairy farmers, it adds.

Read the alliance statement in full …

MILK AGENCY BENEFITS

• Fair prices and remuneration for
investments producing safe, healthy food
to high environmental and welfare
standards.
• Closer links with consumers.
• Ability to tackle problem of cheap
commodity markets dragging down
milk value for higher value markets.
• Structured price contracts that offer
more security to the producer and
reflect the cost of complying with the
buyer‘s specific requirements.
• Greater transparency in the milk chain.
• Management of supply and demand
to avoid surplus production of milk.
• Support of the MDC’s role in providing
applied R & D.
• Co-ordination of product innovation.
• Support for producer co-ops in
achieving operating efficiencies and
streamlining distribution, logistics and
producer support services.
• Milk brokerage would be brought under
a single, coordinated agency.