Rob Harrison on farm with calvesRob Harrison

The crisis in the dairy industry could get worse before there are any signs of improvement, NFU dairy board chairman Rob Harrison has warned.

Speaking at Farmer For Action’s dairy farmer meeting in Market Drayton on Thursday (16 July) Mr Harrison said the future for global dairy prices did not look any brighter over the coming months, and that farmers needed to make positive decisions now to help their businesses survive.

 See also: World dairy price plunge adds to farmer fears

“Nothing that happens in the next six months will make things better in the short term,” he told farmers.

“We don’t know when the drop in prices will end or when it will get better, and Ampe futures are looking grim.

“What we do know is there will be a shake-out [in the industry] over the next six to 12 months, and we need to make sure we work together to come out of the other side in better shape than other countries to take advantage of any opportunities.”

Mr Harrison said dairy farmers and the rural economy were losing £3m every day as a result of the price crisis, and that processors and retailers had a responsibility to react before even more damage was done.

“Market research shows that consumers want to support us and are prepared to pay more to help us but it is frustrating that retailers ignore [consumers] and continue the race to the bottom.” he said

“We need to encourage processors to treat us fairly as farmers and give us more notice and fairness in contracts,” Mr Harrison added.

“There needs to be continued promotion of our products and brands nationally and abroad and we need processors to look at capacity to see where the growth potential is.

“We know it may get worse before it gets better, but we need to be united and be prepared.”