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Milk prices

Last post Fri, Aug 17 2012 8:34 by henarar. 97 replies.
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  • Wed, Jul 4 2012 9:42

    Milk prices

     The sudden and dramatic cuts in milk prices have left many farmers on the brink of leaving the dairy industry. Others are considering protests or talking off pouring milk away. What are your views on the way ahead for British dairy farmers?

     

     

    FW News Editor
  • Wed, Jul 4 2012 9:57 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    Stop this pathetic "world owes us a living" mentality. Other countries do better because they had the balls and foresight to form co-ops and develop brands. It's nearly 20 years since we stopped being spoon fed by the MMB and we still can't kick the habit. Nostalgia for it should be a hanging offence. It was born in the 1930s and that's where it belongs. Milk's worth what someone will pay you for it, get used to it. Everyone who is old enough voted for Thatch, catchphrase "You can't buck the market". It does not leave the farm as the finished article. If someone thinks they can process it and retail it better, bring it on, but given our track record, don't hold your breath. If a supermarket milk buyer said "I think we should pay the poor farmers more" he'd be sacked on the spot.

  • Wed, Jul 4 2012 10:24 In reply to

    • 2709055
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Sun, May 22 2005

    Re: Milk prices

    If you ask the average person how much they pay for their milk, they have no idea.  Therefore prices could be increased to the general public.  Milk is often sold as a loss leader.   Why does it always have to be the farmers who take the price cuts?   If you see any analysis of where the milk price goes over the last 10 years, you will see that the retailers are taking an increasing share of the final milk price.  How can this be fair.   How can it be fair that 12 months notice have to be given to change a dairy farmer's contract to another buyer when the buyer can change the price with a few days' notice.  Big business rules this country.   Haven't you noticed?

  • Wed, Jul 4 2012 10:51 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

     "Big business rules this country.   Haven't you noticed?"

    Better them than farmers. We'd be like Greece.

  • Wed, Jul 4 2012 19:31 In reply to

    • henarar
    • Top 75 Contributor
      Male
    • Joined on Thu, Feb 21 2008
    • zumerzet

    Re: Milk prices

    I spose you could say if you dont like the price dont sell the milk but its not that simple dairy farmers should not sign contracts that let buyers put prices down at the drop of a hat its the farmers milk its up to them how they sell it

  • Wed, Jul 4 2012 19:35 In reply to

    • bosshogg
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Sun, Mar 1 2009
    • Midlands

    Re: Milk prices

    up the rams:
    Stop this pathetic "world owes us a living" mentality.

     

    I agree with up the rams, the world doesn't owe us a living, but this country will come to realise when it is too late that food production is a valuable asset for the economy. It is still fresh in my memory, although others seem to have forgotten, that when the pound was weaker against the euro, pig and milk prices were climbing dramatically. Now that the euro has taken a slide again prices are going the other way. From a pig farmers point of view (one that sells his pigs through a co-op, and buys feed through a co-op) Co-ops do not necesarily increase your chances of making a profit, just ask the Danes whos co-ops have spectacularly collapsed during this period of sustained high feed prices. As pig farmers we have had a long struggle against welfare legislation that has not been introduced into europe, (it is in january 2013), and having cheaper imports and cheaper foreign costs of production thrown back into our faces by the supermarkets. The problem is that when we need the home production of milk and pigs, it won't be there because of the short sighted fools that think it is clever to import what they need from abroad, whether it is produced to standards that are legal in this country or not. I don't think it is about begging the supermarkets to pay us more, it is about getting our message across to consumers about the true value of our products, and why it is different from the alternatives. You only have to look at the value that clever marketing has put into water to see that we are the ones that have got it wrong.

    Hot damn. I wish them Duke boys was on my side.
  • Wed, Jul 4 2012 20:01 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

     When Dairy Farmers realise they are dealing with Barrow Boys not decent Business folk they may get somewhere.Contracts are to be Broken and when Farmers realise that basic fact they will get Terms in their Favour. There is nothing to stop a Farmer from selling his Milk to someone else if he thinks it is not up to the Quality his contract specifies.There is always lots of Talk but no action by Dairy Farmers and that may sound Harsh but appeasment has got you no where as with Neville Chamberline.

  • Thu, Jul 5 2012 8:24 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    I also, to a degree, agree with Up The Rams. however, the UK needs to ensure it is, as near as damn it is to swearing, self-sufficient in energeny and foodstuffs. We need to be sure that if (when?!) it all goes "tats up" out there that the UK doesn't suddenly find herself in the dark when the Russian gas tap is turned off and the container ships of "fresh"(!) fruit and veg are being captured by pirates.

    Anyway...you get the idea, we need to be able to keep ourselves fed and working.

    Anything else is secondary.

    Rgds

    Sskye.

  • Mon, Jul 9 2012 13:05 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    Don't know if any of you guys are interested in this - but FW has produced a 'Fair price on the shelf, fair price on the farm' poster which we're encouraging people to display.

    http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2012/07/09/133825/farmers-weekly-milk-protest-poster.html

    I know there's always a danger that direct action can backfire (and can lose the support of the public) but, right now, I think lawful protests/marches are very necessary and could do a lot more good than harm...

    For a round-up of quirky rural news see my blog Field Day
  • Mon, Jul 9 2012 18:52 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    My townie partner says that throwing milk away is obscene when people are starving in the third world. Did Tesco and the rest get where they are today by caving in to farmers? Did Fonterra get where they are by throwing milk away and picketing supermarkets? I got nothing from the Stafford meeting other than throwing our toys out of the pram. We are in this mess because we didn't mend the roof when the sun was shining. What is needed is a visionary who can take our dairy industry by the scruff of the neck and point the way forward. How about it, Ian Potter?

  • Mon, Jul 9 2012 21:38 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

     Short term greed among dairy farmers has led to long term disaster, supply and demand - farmers have the product, if the price isn't right, don't sell it.  Although things do get a bit complicated as milk production can't just be turned off, and the product has a short shelf life.  Boy am I glad we set our own milk price at the moment.

  • Tue, Jul 10 2012 21:13 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

     Up  the rams, as a non dairy farmer I struggle to understand your message. I agree that nobody wants to be seen as a charity case but how do you propose that the dairy industry makes ends meet if you're receiving less than the cost of production for your milk ? Are you going to continue cutting costs and working for nothing because you're too proud to kick up a fuss or are you simply going to give up milking ?

    The dairies are taking the **** with the prices they're paying you. Supermarkets are selling milk as a loss leader at your expense. What are you going to do about it ? Suffer in silence ?

    Personally I think all dairy farmers should tip their milk down the drain one day per week until a price increase is guaranteed. This will reduce supply by one seventh. However this won't work unless you all do it, and we all know that isn't going to happen don't we ?

  • Tue, Jul 10 2012 21:50 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    welshnwilling:
    I agree that nobody wants to be seen as a charity case
     

    Too true, dairy farmers are businesses, not charities, and the same goes for the processors and the supermarkets, all businesses, all out to make profits.  That is why I am not going to London, because I don't think lobbying MP's is the way to get a better price, and the current threats being banded about are doing no favours to the public perception of the dairy industry.  If it was me in the situation, I would send a letter to my buyer saying milk from my farm is x pence per litre, don't send the tanker until you are prepared to pay it, if everyone does it, milk crisis over, simples.

    welshnwilling:
    Personally I think all dairy farmers should tip their milk down the drain one day per week until a price increase is guaranteed. This will reduce supply by one seventh. However this won't work unless you all do it, and we all know that isn't going to happen don't we ?
     

    Hate to say it, but doing it like that wouldn't work anyway, processing of long life products can be switched on and off easily, the only way to do it is to short the supply enough to make the fresh liquid market short (c. 50% supply) but once that goes you could watch the prices climb.

  • Tue, Jul 10 2012 22:28 In reply to

    • old mcdonald
    • Top 75 Contributor
      Male
    • Joined on Mon, Oct 27 2008
    • Near Castelo Branco, Portugal

    Re: Milk prices

    utr, Good to see you posting. I will never forget that it was your posts that persuaded me Nocton was a good idea. I regret I cannot do more than offer sympathy to dairy farmers. My knoweldge of your branch of farming is totally insufficient to offer any comment on what shoud or should not be done.
  • Tue, Jul 10 2012 23:23 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    Farmer Dan 6465:
    If it was me in the situation, I would send a letter to my buyer saying milk from my farm is x pence per litre, don't send the tanker until you are prepared to pay it, if everyone does it, milk crisis over, simples.

    Simples it ain't. Wish I had a pound for all the knee jerk quick fix solutions I've heard lately. Remember the miner's strike? British Coal bought from Poland to fulfill an export order at the time. A similar thing would happen. The problem goes far deeper. I know a farmer who sells ice cream to supermarkets. He says that once you have a branded product to offer them, dealing with them becomes much easier. Tomorrow the supermarkets and processors will make a big play of "listening to farmers" and it will be spun as a PR success for all sides. When the fuss has died down we will be back to square one, and we will remain there as long as we continue to "wave it goodbye" at the farm gate.

  • Wed, Jul 11 2012 2:24 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    I'm not an Dairy farmer, I'm an IT professional and Arable farmer's son.

    I think you are right the UK needs some co-ops creating - failing that partnerships with small businesses.

    Lot's of problems in the way but I guess it is still doable - I just hope push hasn't come to shove.

    If someone can market sausages as the "Black Farmer" as I saw in the co-op today I'm sure there's at least some space for the "Welsh Farmer", "Yorkshire Farmer", "Ashbourne Farmer".

    Personally I think the biggest problem is age and know how, making a jump from farmer to processor with the energy to overcome obsticals.

    At the moment I've started a website but I think this has given me the idea of trying a few other things as well.

    We've all got to do something - a good marketing strategy might be "Sports Milk" - it was found recently that Milk is far better at helping recover from excercise than most if not all Sports drinks - leading to better muscle growth as well. Opportunities here to sell to the Army, Schools, Sports Clubs, Fitness Clubs etc.

    As well as the Swedish the Dutch have successful co-ops yeilding to higher prices for their produce - remember the sugar beet price discussions recently ? There is lots of opportunity for UK farming we just gotta work together and get the job done.

  • Wed, Jul 11 2012 7:22 In reply to

    • henarar
    • Top 75 Contributor
      Male
    • Joined on Thu, Feb 21 2008
    • zumerzet

    Re: Milk prices

    up the rams:
    Remember the miner's strike? British Coal bought from Poland to fulfill an export order at the time. A similar thing would happen

    If no milk had left the farm on monday could they get it imported by now, by friday, by next month? is it there to have?Is there a way to get it here? Anyway it would cost them 

  • Wed, Jul 11 2012 10:07 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    henarar:

    If no milk had left the farm on monday could they get it imported by now, by friday, by next month? is it there to have?Is there a way to get it here? Anyway it would cost them 

    If farmers and supermarkets go eyeball to eyeball, who do you think would blink first? I farm next to a brook, and for that reason alone you will not get me throwing milk away. How will thousands of dead fish advance our cause?

  • Wed, Jul 11 2012 12:59 In reply to

    • RosieCB
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Wed, Jul 11 2012

    Re: Milk prices

    2709055:

    If you ask the average person how much they pay for their milk, they have no idea.  Therefore prices could be increased to the general public.  Milk is often sold as a loss leader.   Why does it always have to be the farmers who take the price cuts?   If you see any analysis of where the milk price goes over the last 10 years, you will see that the retailers are taking an increasing share of the final milk price.  How can this be fair.   How can it be fair that 12 months notice have to be given to change a dairy farmer's contract to another buyer when the buyer can change the price with a few days' notice.  Big business rules this country.   Haven't you noticed?

    But what was pointed out yesterday is that our issue is not with the public, the consumers as a group, and our aim is not to push the price up for them. The aim is not to suffer another price cut - ARLA stated it would be unwise to set prices on commodity prices, but why is it when commodity prices go up, the price remains the same, however when commodity prices drop so does what we receieve - that isn't woe is us, that is just unfair, surely?

  • Wed, Jul 11 2012 13:19 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    If I put my back garden up for rent ther'd be a dairy farmer knocking my door by night looking for it!!

    Over the past decade  (based on DARD figures)  dairy farming would have outperformed all other sectors in terms of margin per ha and per head leading to some massive investments on farms with many herds doubling or trebelling building huge sheds to house at least one of their herds all year round.

    IMHO many farms have become so obsessed with total litres sold they've lost control of costs and never had control of price of milk sold.  Surely a dangerous position to be in.

    Milk is a commodity just like beef and lamb with price dictated by supply and demand on a global scale.  Unfortunately we can't just ask for more and expect supermarkets to increase our prices.  It would be nice though........



  • Wed, Jul 11 2012 15:24 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    Phil Goodyear:
    Milk is a commodity just like beef and lamb with price dictated by supply and demand on a global scale.
     

    I have to disagree with this, milk powder, butter and cheese are commodities, but fresh (especially raw) milk has too short a shelf life to be traded worldwide, and needs processing to do so.  The commodity markets should put a floor in place for the price of milk, but with a little thought and co-operation a substaintial premium could be acheived, as there simply isn't a way of importing the entire fresh liquid market

    Up The Rams - discussion about throwing milk away never said dump it in the nearest stream.

  • Wed, Jul 11 2012 15:39 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    Phil Goodyear:
    Milk is a commodity just like beef and lamb with price dictated by supply and demand on a global scale.  Unfortunately we can't just ask for more and expect supermarkets to increase our prices.  It would be nice though........
     

    Yes but we can hold back beef and lamb to manipulate prices to a certain extent. You can't do that with milk unless you tip it.

  • Wed, Jul 11 2012 16:12 In reply to

    Re: Milk prices

    Farmer Dan 6465:

    Up The Rams - discussion about throwing milk away never said dump it in the nearest stream.

    No one has, but it would be an inevitable consequence.

  • Sun, Jul 15 2012 21:59 In reply to

    • rossymons
    • Top 500 Contributor
      Male
    • Joined on Fri, Jan 30 2009
    • Cornwall

    Re: Milk prices

    First of all I can't ignore the 3000 farmers that turned up on Wednesday. Such a band of support is something i've never heard of amongst UK farmers. It can only show the level of desperation amongst UK Dairy Ltd that this must be sorted out. Having such a turnout must also have buoyed Jim Paice - a man who is determined to sort this mess out.

    It's easy preaching to the converted and thats exactly what Meurig Raymond was doing. It couldn't have been easy with no Mr Kendall to warm the crowd and he did speak some sense but I felt that raptuous standing ovation was a tad much. I've heard his tub-thumping "We will get you a better milk price" before and still we are here shouting about it.

    David Handley spoke some truths but then he always does. It's a shame he has this image of being a miserable old git because he can be very intelligent and articulate given half a chance.

    Then Mr Paice showed up. I was disappointed to hear booing before he even got the podium. He genuinely wants to help and has more political clout then any of the others combined. In short, we need him on our side. Whilst he probably couldn't give a toss about them we should at least listen to what he had to say. And didnt he have something to say!

    The 2 major points to take were: Production Costs and Ministerial power over free business. I'll start with the 2nd point.

    He said he couldn't influence market prices and I quite agree. We don't want to go back to the MMB days as they were arguably what got us in this mess. They aren't coming back anyway so the older generation that grew fat off them can pipe down. For all those saying he should intervene - what should he do? What CAN he do? He can only influence the culture surrounding dairy contracts and not the fine print within them. He's giving it a go with the voluntary code and seems to have had more luck with that in the last couple months than the NFU have had in the last few years. We need that power on our side and the NFU and everyone at the top table recognised that even if those on the floor were keen to heckle every comment. This wasn't helped by what he said next...

    His comment on Production Costs whilst had some truth was ill advised to say the least. Yes, some farmers (many I would wager) can shave some money from their bills compared to the top 25%, thats fine. But but but. No-one stays in the top 25% for ever and costs can easily swing through one reason or another - feed price, disease outbreak, change in business circumstances - can all play havoc with even the best businesses. Further more, if we were to review production costs they would go up and not down. Imagine all the farmers wives, sons, daughters and other family members are paid a fair wage for the hours they put in. Imagine how much more that would add to the wage bill? Thats just a number to put on a spreadsheet though. The real cost of those affected by SFP and bTB problems is unaccountable and those are Jim Paice's areas - high time he sorted those problems out.

    Overall, it was interesting. The support was great but i'm left deflated by the speakers. Farming is constantly being bandied about to our generation as bright, vibrant and progessive industry to be involved with in the future. Why are we still having these problems? The milk price has been *** for the last 12 years - what makes me think that they'll change now just because we're shouting a little louder? Real change needs instigating and i'm not sure the NFU know how to do it.

    The big question no-one has answered me so far is: What happens on August 2nd?
  • Sun, Jul 15 2012 22:52 In reply to

    • skrutch
    • Not Ranked
      Male
    • Joined on Mon, Nov 24 2008
    • North Somerset

    Re: Milk prices

    to add my opinion to this debate will only repeat everything UP THE RAMS has already so correctly put, dairy farmers have been bought off, shafted and led like a goat to the slaughter by the supermarkets with a classic checkmate move they have used so many times before, and if we were honest we will all say we all saw it coming.

    we left dairy 10 years ago because this was happening and nothing has changed since.   As for the solution you have to look to the successes over the water , and too acheive that needs a sea change off ideas, away from short termism protesting, save your anger and bottle into a long term solution, get a brand build a business bury the hatchet and cooperate.

    with little spare cash to invest off farm and dairy farming screwed to the junkiest depths of hand to mouth milk cheques being tossed occasional supermarket titbits to appease the troops will ensure the status quo for many more years to come

    protesting may make you feel better but remember the best revenge is served cold, Work on a long term solution that in 5 or 10 years time will turn the table on the supermarkets.

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