Dairy farmers have been warned against casting envious glances at their counterparts in the beef sector, who have been promised £8m by the government to fund initiatives designed to improve returns.
The NFU’s chief dairy adviser Tom Hind admitted there had been “grumblings around the regions” from milk-producing members put out that beef farmers appeared to be getting special treatment from Defra.
He said their concerns were being addressed by the Dairy Supply Chain Forum which, chaired by
Lord Bach, parliamentary secretary for sustainable farming and food, brings farmers, processors and retailers together regularly to discuss the sector. Hind said: “Dairy farmers shouldn’t feel jealous of beef farmers. Price pressures are new to the beef sector but they’re familiar in dairy. It would be churlish to say Defra’s support for beef farmers was unfair.”
Farmers For Action chairman David Handley also said he did not expect government money to help struggling dairy farmers. “No, I don’t want handouts. There’s enough money in the chain to sort out the problems of the dairy industry overnight. Why should the taxpayer have to fork out? There is sufficient margin in the industry. We just want a fairer split. And we want Lord Bach to tell the OFT to investigate supermarket power.”
Meanwhile, Hind said the NFU had elicited “mixed opinions” from retailers when it had met them to discuss its strategy document A Vision for the Dairy Industry.
He added: “Retailers have to change their way of doing business. The choice here is between a positive route and anarchy. We want long-term, durable contracts for farmers.”
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