The new chairman of Dairy UK Mark Allen has urged those who criticised his appointment to give him time to settle into the job and judge the organisation on results.
Last week, Dairy UK ousted David Curry MP from the chairman’s position and replaced him with Dairy Crest chief executive Mark Allen. It has sparked a row with the NFU over the future direction of the organisation, which claims to be a unified voice for the dairy industry.
The NFU withdrew its support fearing Dairy UK had become a processor only organisation and the NFU was noticeably absent from Dairy UK’s annual conference today.
Speaking at the conference Mr Allen poured praise on David Curry and said he was hopeful he could convince him to remain involved in the organisation.
He admitted he had not spoken to the NFU since its withdrawal of support last week, preferring to let the dust settle before trying to build bridges. “Judge us on what happens over the next few years”, he said. “Deal with the facts and not emotions. If the industry trusts the history of Dairy UK and the way it’s evolved, then it should not fear for the future. We can still prove to farmers we can represent the whole industry in its widest sense.”
Dairy UK argues that its change at the top was necessary because of challenges facing the industry, particularly environmental and nutritional issues. “It was felt we needed someone within the industry who lives and breathes these problems on a daily basis,” said Mark Allen.
Dairy UK intends to release a paper in a few weeks on food security and on what support dairy farmers and processors expect from government. The organisation insists that profitable farmers are key to a strong, vibrant industry and that they will not be neglected.
One delegate at the conference commented that Dairy UK could have been less provocative if it had opted for a co-operative chief executive as chairman.