7 September 2001

Keep momentum going, dairy producers urged

DAIRY farmers may be relieved to be earning 20p/litre for their milk but they should not be complacent about improved prices.

Cheshire dairy farmer Ray Brown, vice-chairman of the Federation of Milk Producers, says its essential to maintain the momentum that will further strengthen producers control of the milk they produce.

"Its like pushing a bolder up a hill; weve got to keep up the pressure and keep going forward. If we let things slip now and become complacent the bolder will come crashing back down the hill and well lose the control weve fought so hard for," says Mr Brown.

He believes recent months have proved that the argument made by the supermarkets and the dairies against an increase in the milk price – namely currency values – was a red herring.

"The dairies and the supermarkets overcooked that one. Weve proved there always was 3-4p a litre that could have been paid to producers but its only now, as producers find themselves in a much stronger position, that we can actually get the increase we should have had all along."

Mr Brown says dairy farmers must be able to control their destiny and to do that they need to be in a strong negotiating position.

"Co-ops are forward thinking and offer producers more control over balancing supplies and getting a better return from the marketplace. There had to be a better way than we have had in the past and this is it."

Milk producers collectively must have the power to match that of the supermarkets and the dairies but its vital that they know exactly what the supply of milk is, he says.

"Only by having that information – and not being dependent on the dairies for it – can farmers consolidate their position over marketing the milk they produce and in turn reap the benefits that are out there."