Farmer Focus: Grasp chance to call for compulsory contracts

I can’t ever remember so little growth in March. We must be at least a month behind with everything.

I also haven’t seen as many empty silage pits with zero waste on the side walls stocks are very tight indeed.

Regarding milk price, I do hope we have hit the bottom of the market.

Yet, I’m concerned about so called three-year supermarket contracts emerging regarding fixed pricing while Brexit terms are still unclear.

Defra will be producing a consultation paper this month on compulsory contracts. Every milk producer needs to study this document and give their thoughts directly or through their union.

See also: Arla milk price edges up due to currency smoothing

The question still remains whether this is a devolved or a UK decision. I believe it’s a UK decision in that it suits all UK producers and for those who felt the voluntary code of practice was a waste of time, I beg to differ, it was a key driver in bringing us to this opportunity.

We have ticked the voluntary box and failed, so compulsory contracts are the only way forward now, but we need to decide exactly what we want to be mandatory.

This is not just about price, it’s about the whole dairy supply chain from farmer to retailer, so farmers need to take heed and grab this chance.

Dairy UK does not want any changes so we must defend our position strongly.

I had an interesting weekend in Shetland where I was asked to speak at the monitor farm for the Islands, Bigton Farm.

It’s farmed by sisters Kirsty and Aimee Budge who unfortunately lost their father in a tragic accident over three years ago. I was so impressed by how these girls have taken hold of the business in their attention to detail, costs and performance figures.

They are a great asset to Shetland and especially to the younger generation there and I must also say mother Helen cooked an excellent Sunday roast to round off my inspirational trip.

Gary Mitchell, Stranraer, milks 800 cows, with heifers reared on a local farm. Gary zero grazes 80ha of the 195ha he owns. He is vice-chairman of NFU Scotland.