Members of Dairy Farmers of Britain have reacted with alarm to the resignation of chief executive Malcolm Smith.
Smith, who left last week to pursue other business interests, was popular with many farmers for his no-nonsense style and because he was quick to support initiatives to raise the milk price. He had also delivered on his early promise to take DFB into the more profitable arena of liquid milk processing instead of commodity production.
DFB said Smith’s leaving was perfectly natural, as he had completed DFB’s transformation from purely a farmer co-op into one of the UK’s largest milk
processors. The business recently paid over £80m for ACC and Lincolnshire Co-op Dairy, a sum borrowed on the back of farmers’ assets. But while there are those in the industry who regret his departure, others view it as an opportunity for DFB to alter its management style. Industry insiders say Smith had alienated some farmers. Some members and former ACC farmers reportedly left to join other organisations because they didn’t feel secure under Smith’s leadership.
Arla Foods has signed up around 100 million litres of new raw milk volumes over recent months, with much of this believed to have come from former DFB and ACC suppliers. Kite Consulting’s David Levick said he had frequently been asked by DFB farmers to find a new buyer for their milk.
A spokeswoman for DFB said: “The majority of our members were very much in support of Malcolm and what he has achieved for DFB.” Smith was unavailable for comment.
Chris Walkland