29 November 1998
Ministry promotes joined-up farming
By Jonathan Riley
FARM leaders and Government ministers have urged small farmers to join forces and market their produce together.
The NFU and Ministry of Agriculture are so concerned that small-scale farm businesses could be squeezed out of markets by larger suppliers that they have teamed up to co-fund a campaign to promote collaborative marketing.
NFU president Ben Gill and junior agriculture minister Lord Donoughue are to launch the eight-month campaign, called Building Business Advantages, at the Smithfield Show today (Sunday).
Both men believe that farmers must overcome their fears of collaborative marketing in a market where retailers, processors and manufacturers continue to consolidate their supplier base.
Speaking before todays launch, NFU marketing specialist Tessa Crago said the union was seriously concerned that smaller farm businesses would be stifled if retailers continued the trend towards using fewer and larger suppliers.
The campaign will urge farmers to consider the strengths of collaborative marketing and help them exploit opportunities to stay in business.
It is being backed by Milk Marque, the countrys biggest milk buyer which is itself a farmer-owned co-operative.
Livestock buying group North Country Primestock, Cereal Marketing Services, and John Shropshire of Gs Marketing have also added their weight to the argument for collaborative marketing.