NFU 2010: Dairy future bright if TB is tackled

The UK dairy industry has a bright future if the government accepts responsibility for bovine TB.

In what could be his final address as NFU dairy board chairman, Gwyn Jones told delegates at the union’s conference in Birmingham on Tuesday (23 February) that dairy farmers would continue to leave the industry unless the disease was properly tackled.

He said 55% of cattle culled last year because of bovine TB were dairy cattle, accounting for more than 20,000 animals.

“The TB Advisory Group must, as a matter of urgency, put all the evidence [in favour of a badger cull] together and put it to the secretary of state,” he told a break-out session on the dairy industry.

Mr Jones said a more balanced supply chain and fairer distribution of profits were also needed if farmers were to be persuaded to stay in dairying.

“The next generation needs to be convinced that a decent living can be made from dairy farming, complete with a sensible life balance,” he said.

“To ensure a profitable future need to work in closer harmony with buyers and retailers.

“The drive for efficiency and competitiveness with ever-higher standards will go on. But farmers in this country can compete with anyone in Europe.”

Mr Jones said the dairy survival plan, which was launched last year, had been successful in tackling some of the challenges within the industry, particularly in relation to its call for commitment to the Red Tractor, sourcing British and better milk contracts.

“We mustn’t underestimate lack of investment and NVZs haven’t gone away,” he said.

“But there are greater opportunities ahead and we need to make use of these and the tremendous support we have from the public.”

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