Farmer Focus: Dairy POs could be breakthrough for UK

With May all it entails done and dusted, we are now looking at the farm and getting on with  jobs that needed doing a while ago, but inevitably got pushed back for one reason or another.

For us this usually revolves around our decision to make more from our grazed grass. With good paddocks and a good track, we are now making sure there are enough water troughs present for the girls to drink from.

We have one of our tracks going through the middle of one field, so have split it and put a water trough in the middle. The trench was dug, water pipe laid and the trough in position ready. This was going well, but the mistake was not connecting the pipe there and then.

When the digger came back to finish off and smooth out a gateway for us, we realised he had accidentally buried the unconnected end. So he will be back soon and hopefully it will be third time lucky.

See also: Read more from our other livestock Farmer Focus writers

We are proud to be part of the first dairy producer organisation (DPO) in the UK through our membership of Dairy Crest Direct (DCD). To have this organisation in place in order to help its farmer members negotiate prices and contracts can only be a good thing.

For years the dairy supply chain has been told to work closer together and this is a key first step in that direction. EU and UK governments provided the legislation and authority for electorally accountable groups of dairy farmers to collaborate to negotiate contract terms and milk prices.

DPOs are widespread within direct supply relationships in the EU, and now at last we have a DPO in the UK. Let’s hope DCD’s example is followed and a greater proportion of dairy farmers can also have meaningful representation in the future.

It must be in the best interests of processors and farmers if solutions can be found by taking a more collaborative approach. The DPO structure provides the independence and authority to do just that.

Ross Symons farms 200 dairy cows, including his own small herd of pedigree Holsteins, with his parents near Truro, Cornwall. They are converting their year-round calving herd to autumn block calving.