29 September 2000

Selves are to blame…

FEWER milk selling organisations could be the only way for dairy farmers to have more control over milk price.

Speaking at a Spotlight on Profit forum at the EDFE, the Federation of Milk Producers (FMP) John Loftus, said that dairy farmers are good businessmen, but are not big enough to negotiate milk prices unless they re-organise.

The current crisis in dairying could be blamed on processors seeking market share and undercutting each other. This means for processors to maintain margins they sell farmers short.

Ultimately, he said dairy farmers could only blame themselves: "This isnt bad news as it is in our power to change it. You dont get what you deserve in life, but you get what you can negotiate."

It was time, he said, for dairy farmers to begin negotiating. Joining forces to sell milk is the best way for producers to empower themselves, he added, saying that three milk selling organisations would probably be the ideal.

Currently, the FMP is touring the country galvanising support from direct sellers, trying to get them to commit to a milk selling group. The next step is for these groups to form bigger ones. Some progress to bigger selling groups has already been made in the north, midlands and south-west.

"Processors make up to 2p/litre on milk. We have the milk and therefore the collateral and power, but lack the organisation to deal with it," he said.

His final rallying call was for milk producers to join together and forge the right structure.

so this generation of dairymen could make a margin and survive.