He pledged to tackle issues that Dairy UK believed really mattered instead of political issues such as salt and fat content, obesity, labelling and the environment.
Dairy UK must do what is required “for an industry at war with itself and whose greatest capacity is to stage public fights”, said David Curry.
Speaking at the association’s annual dinner, Curry identified key issues as the future of CAP and WTO reforms, competition and the role of farmers.
Significantly, the fundamental issue of milk pricing was absent
from that list. With price rancour at an all-time high, Dairy UK has been standing on the sidelines, attracting widespread criticism from farmers.
“As far as farmers are concerned Dairy UK has been like the New Orleans emergency services trumpeting a success in unblocking a drain while the rest of the city is underwater,” said outspoken industry commentator Ian Potter. “It talks about things farmers don’t care about such as climate change and plastics. What farmers want is leadership on price and Dairy UK will struggle for respect until it gives them that.”
Dairy UK insists it is legally and morally hampered from discussing prices and has had to be politically cautious at first.
However there is expectation that the no-nonsense, politically shrewd Curry will transform what is seen as a comfortable organisation excelling at protecting its own interests.
“Dairy UK could be in for a shock,” said Potter. “If it doesn’t get a shake up and continues to be seen by farmers as processor-orientated and ineffective, it may as well pack up.”