June 15, 2011


UK county's dairy farmers urged to support fairer milk contracts



The dairy farmers of UK's Pembrokeshire are being encouraged by NFU Cymru to lobby their local MPs, AMs and milk buyers to ensure fairer milk contract terms and remove unfair commercial practices in the dairy sector.


During a recent meeting held at Agriculture House, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire NFU Cymru County Milk Chairman Roger Lewis said, "It's quite clear that the dairy market in this country is not working and dairy farmers are not receiving a milk price which fairly reflects the current marketplace. With favourable climatic conditions for producing milk, such as we have in west Wales, Pembrokeshire dairy farmers should be benefiting from the higher prices being received on both domestic and global markets for dairy products such as butter, cream and powder. Why then do we continue to struggle as an industry from continuing under investment and low profitability?"


"For dairy farmers like me the main problem is the one-sided nature of the milk contracts that we are obliged to sign with our milk buyers. These milk contracts offer little or no certainty or clarity on the way milk prices are calculated. They lock dairy farmers in for long notice periods of up to 18 months and provide no ability to supply milk to any other buyer or leave if the milk buyer decides to unilaterally change the milk price at short notice," Lewis added.


Roger Lewis continued, "The European Commission recognises that the contractual relationships between milk producers and purchasers are fundamental to guaranteeing a fairer deal for farmers within the dairy supply chain. There are some exciting proposals on the table, including improvements to milk contracts, which would significantly strengthen the position of dairy farmers within their supply chains. However, we desperately need the Westminster and Welsh Governments to get behind these proposals and take the action that's required to help move the industry towards fairer milk supply contracts."


David James, Pembrokeshire NFU Cymru County Chairman said, "We're calling on local dairy farmers to write to their elected representatives to call on them to take immediate action to eliminate these unfair commercial practices and improve milk contracts. NFU Cymru has drawn up a number of template letters that members can easily personalise with their own farm details to show that it's time to back our dairy farmers."


James added, "The success of this lobbying activity greatly depends upon the participation of dairy farmers and I therefore urge all local dairy farmers to take a few minutes out of their busy lives to write to local MPs, AMs and milk buyers to raise awareness of the campaign. This is a unique opportunity to bring about much needed change and dairy farmers should seize it with both hands."