05 August 1998
Milk Marque members hear call for unity
By FWi staff
THE might of dairy companies can only be beaten if farmer-owned co-operatives merge and show a united front, Milk Marques AGM was told yesterday.
With more than 40 producer-owned co-ops across the country, MM members were told that their fragmented industry was playing into processors hands.
The Stratford meeting was told that a series of mergers might prevent processors from playing one group off against another, and hopefully force them into offering better prices.
Following the meeting, the National Farmers Union – with the blessing of MM – has decided to set up a series of working parties throughout the UK to bring farmers and co-op chiefs together.
Michael Lambert, NFU milk committee chairman, said: “Producers have got to be stronger, and reducing the number of groups would strengthen their position.”
Meanwhile, Poul Christensen, MM chairman, reassured members that the co-op was still talking to its customers in an attempt to find a way out of the current stalemate.
Last month, many of the major milk companies put in token bids during MMs July selling round in protest at the co-ops attempt to increase prices. MM abolished the selling round and refused to accept any of the offers.
“I do not believe that the market factors alone are responsible for current prices. That is why we are taking steps designed to improve our price,” Mr Christensen said.
He said MMs stand was reasonable when you consider that retail prices have remained virtually unchanged over the past year, while farmers incomes have declined dramatically. In addition, dairy companies have made good profits over the past 12 months.