28 February 1997

Welfare code is way ahead

NATIONAL auditing of dairy welfare codes is the next step towards promoting milk to an increasingly discerning UK consumer.

Milk Marques corporate director, Andrew Dare, speaking at a London press briefing last week after receiving the Princess Royal Award for services to dairying, said the industry must work towards a national verification scheme for dairy welfare codes.

"We must stop practices mainline consumers find unacceptable and sign up to improved welfare," he said. It was unrealistic for dairy companies to adopt one common welfare scheme. "But let us at least provide one standard for dairy welfare and audit it. On that basis we can promote milks good image."

Mr Dare was also concerned over the decline in liquid milk consumption by nearly 3% last year – the largest decrease for some time. He proposed the Milk Development Council be given a remit to generate funds for generic advertising which should then be carried out by the National Dairy Council.

Mr Dare suggested the MDC producer levy be increased from 0.04p/litre to 0.1p/litre. The increase would generate £6m from farmers and, if matched by industry, would secure £12m a year funding.

"But the levy must only be increased on the condition that the trade matches that funding £ for £. "If it refuses, producers should go down a different route – perhaps by putting their money into their own processing operation." He was concerned the UK could have insufficient processing capacity after deregulation of the quota regime.

In this freer milk market, prices would also come down. "Producers should focus on minimising on farm costs per litre of production – then aim to sell that milk as best they can."n