The current milk price is an outrage that must be addressed if the dairy sector is to remain viable, according to NFU council members.
The union’s council meeting in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, on Tuesday 25 January heard from delegates who urged the NFU’s senior officeholders to push harder and more quickly for higher milk prices.
“We need to have more meetings with the milk processors and retailers and work more closely with allied organisations such as Farmers For Action and the Women’s Institute to highlight the issue,” said Somerset delegate Ruth Kimber.
She added that price rises of points of a penny were not acceptable.
Dairy board chairman Mansell Raymond defended the work that he and his team were doing in highlighting low milk prices, in particular the timing of a meeting with processors not scheduled until April.
“We had a positive meeting with the processors in October and there appears to be more acceptance that milk prices will have to rise,” said Mr Raymond.
He calculated that milk prices should be at least 5ppl higher than they are, with producers selling to manufacturing processors particularly losing out. “Producers selling for milk powder should be getting at 29ppl ex-farm; some are still only getting 22ppl.”
Mr Raymond criticised the government for backtracking on giving an ombudsman significant powers. “The government might be reticent to bring in more legislation, but a code of conduct is unlikely to be sufficient.”
Although there is a role for government, Mr Raymond stressed that change will not come unless the processors and retailers make a move.