Defra’s review of the levy bodies and the Milk Development Council’s highly dismissive response to it (The Grocer, November 26, p54) is turning into a test of loyalty for the dairy industry’s political bodies.
Anything other than a full endorsement of the MDC’s views by the likes of Dairy UK and the NFU’s Dairy Board will be seen by the MDC as a failure to support it in its hour of need.
The loss of Datum and the Dairy Council would be severe blows, as they represent two of the MDC’s most popular activities among levy
payers. The MDC is desperate to keep both.
“It is a question of backing the MDC or sacking us over this issue,” said MDC council member Trevor Lloyd. “We are not going to give up on the hard and good work of the past four years. Certain MDC elements, like the market information from Datum, must remain under the control of a farmer board. Datum is the jewel in the MDC’s crown, and if the farmers don’t value it enough to fight for it, then the council will walk.”
All eyes are now on the NFU Dairy Board’s and Dairy UK’s response to the review - due shortly. Some MDC council members believe some processors in Dairy UK would love to see Datum disappear as it provides farmers with valuable information on which to negotiate milk prices and counter downward price talk.
The greatest effect of the creation of an overall levy body service company, says the MDC, may be to scupper the long term “master plan” being discussed by industry leaders.
That is to vertically integrate the MDC, Dairy Council and “a radically different” Dairy UK into just one organisation - exactly what Defra has been trying to promote with its Dairy Supply Chain Forum.
Chris Walkland