CAP REFORM offers some great opportunities to British dairy farmers, believes Dawn Bennett, European trade policy manager for New Zealand co-op Fonterra.

She told guests at the Dairy Industry Dinner, held on the eve of last week‘s (w/e Oct 8) Dairy Show at the Bath and West Showground, that although this was a time of great change for the industry it also offered tremendous potential for forward-thinking producers.

“In future there will be less support for agriculture and less protection from competition,” she said.

Some producers would undoubtedly leave the industry, but as support was decoupled from production, farmers would be less bound by red tape when making business decisions, she added.

“Farmers should end up with more freedom to manage the industry and to make business decisions in response to market signals. The farms that remain will be bigger and more cost-effective.”

The key challenge was to identify where farmers wanted to be and to work out how to get there, said Miss Bennett.

The UK had some great advantages in its land, climate and excellent products, she said. It now needed to focus on what it did best and develop that.

The three main goals for individual farmers were to stay close to the market, keep costs at a minimum and to find a way to take value from higher up the supply chain, she said.