Market strong – marketing weak
ADVERSE exchange rates, low intervention prices, inefficient processing and insufficient milk promotion are no more than a smokescreen of excuses being used by dairy farmers to explain the crisis facing their industry.
The real problem, according to north Wales dairy farmer Richard Tomlinson, is that the market is strong but producers marketing is too weak to ensure they get a fair share.
Speaking at the recent British Cattle Veterinary Association congress in Chester, Mr Tomlinson said: "As producers, we are in the weakest position for a generation. We are receiving prices barely sufficient to maintain our businesses. We see little immediate prospect of improved returns. And Milk Marque continues to be under serious threat from fair trading legislation."
He added: "Adverse exchange rates, low intervention prices, inefficient processing and insufficient milk promotion have relatively little to do with our problem. They are a convenient smokescreen."
Farmers had to work together to tackle the problems, urgently, or they would be exploited increasingly mercilessly by the major processors and retailers, with the tacit support of the Office of Fair Trading, he suggested.
Mr Tomlinson is a founder director of the farmer-owned Milk Mark-eting Body established this summer to bring producer groups together.
Producers had to accept that the current system must change and that they needed to acquire real marketing strength and put it to effective use, he said. *