26 September 1997

Producers favour a single scheme…

MILK producers, fed up with the increasing number of dairy company welfare codes, were supportive of one national set of standards.

&#8226 Devon dairy farmer and chief executive of south-west co-op Mole Valley Farmers, Ranald Fowler, who milks 180 cows at Braunton: "Im very supportive of the new scheme. It should remove the plethora of codes currently in use – and the unnecessary cost burden to producers of having to meet ever higher standards that are deemed to be an advantage through the eyes of the supermarket buyer. Its a case of supermarkets leap frogging over each other to provide a greater level of monitoring of producers for the perceived benefit of its buying public."

&#8226 Neil Rowe, dairy manager for Marcham Farms, Oxon, milking 170 cows: "Im in favour of a single, national quality assurance scheme. Its important we dont end up receiving less for our milk and have to produce to higher and higher standards. Were facing a situation where 30% of the milk price is based on quality and welfare standards set by the buyer. If it wants extra standards, we should expect a fair return."

&#8226 John Cheney, milking 150 cows in Leicestershire: "A national quality assurance scheme has got to be the way forward. The state of some businesses – albeit a few – leaves much to be desired, and drags down the image of the entire industry. There should be on farm policing of standards and I would be prepared to pay for that inspection."

&#8226 Staffs producer Ken Ede, milking 127 cows near Uttoxeter: "We must have a common industry standard to satisfy consumer demands. But it should be applied across the whole of Europe – not just the UK."

&#8226 Malcolm Crabtree, manager at Leckford Estates, Stockbridge, Hants and chairman of the Milk Development Councils R & D committee: "A national assurance scheme is important. Gone are the days when we could produce milk and that was it. We must demonstrate to our customers and give them confidence that our product is produced under hygienic conditions with the health and welfare of the cow a priority. But the scheme must be practical and the standards must have a direct impact on areas that matter."

&#8226 Dairy Event director and Somerset farmer Richard Salisbury, milking 200 cows at Bickenhall, Taunton: "It will be ideal to have one scheme which is acceptable to all milk buyers and sets out sufficiently high standards to give consumers confidence. It is what weve been chasing all this time. If buyers want to add extras to the national scheme thats fine – provided they accept the national scheme as a baseline."

&#8226 Peter Merson, chief executive of Milk Development Council: "There is a need for consistency across all buyers schemes. A common approach to dairy farm assurance should be welcomed by everybody, especially the supermarkets. Its also important that the national scheme is seen to be and is autditable and sufficiently demanding that it drives the industry forward but not so demanding that only 5% of producers comply."n

Ranald Fowler: Very supportiver of the new scheme.

John Cheney: A national scheme has got to be the way forward.

Malcolm Crabtree: Scheme must be practical.

MDCs Peter Merson: Need for consistency across all buyerss schemes.