The National Farmers Union has withdrawn from Dairy UK – the body that represents the UK dairy industry – following the sacking of David Curry its chairman.

Dairy UK: NFU’s Q & A

The organisation’s appointment of Mark Allen, chief executive of Dairy Crest, has drawn scathing criticism from the NFU which claims Dairy UK’s independence has been compromised.

Commenting on the announcement, NFU President Peter Kendall said: “Irrespective of the personalities, the decision to move away from an independent chairman means that Dairy UK cannot claim it represents the whole of the dairy industry.

“I would like to commend David Curry for his work as chairman of Dairy UK. We haven’t always agreed, but we have appreciated his willingness to engage with the farming sector and for the credibility and presence that he has given the dairy sector politically.

“He has also ensured that Dairy UK has not been seen as representing one part or another of the dairy industry. To move away from an independent-led association is, in our opinion, naïve and short-sighted.

“We do not believe now that Dairy UK can make any claim to represent farmers. For this reason, with deep regret, we are taking the decision to withdraw our involvement in Dairy UK and I have asked Gwyn Jones to resign as a director of the board.”

Jim Begg, director general of Dairy UK told Farmers Weekly: “Every year the chairman position is up for election and this year David Curry has been succeeded by Mark Allen to take us forward.

It has always been our aspiration to have an industry person in the chair. There is no reason why a chairman needs to be independent.  It is the board that determines the policy not the chairman.  Farmers will continue to represent their views forcibly and there will be no change in the way Dairy UK operates.”

When told that dairy farmer Gwyn Jones had also resigned from Dairy UK, Mr Begg said he would urge him to reconsider because there was nothing that he should be concerned about.