Dairy UK: Defra promises dairy help from Europe
Following publication of a report on dairy prices by the UK’s House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Dairy UK issued the following statement.
Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, says: “There are a number of important findings in this report that will be welcomed by the dairy industry. The committee clearly recognised the fact that the main driver for the downturn in milk prices is volatility in global markets and there should be greater promotion of UK dairy produce.
“In particular, we support the committee’s recommendation that Defra explore practical steps to help the export of UK dairy products, and there are clearly identifiable areas where government can help, such as the simplification of export documentation and the funding of foreign inspection visits. We also believe that longer-term country of origin labelling will be of benefit to the industry and to the British consumer.
“We agree with the committee that the industry’s future lies largely in its own hands and its development is the most effective mechanism to protect farmers from price volatility. However, as present private mechanisms to help smooth volatility are not well developed, we asked for and strongly support the recommendation that Defra seek a commitment from the EC to review the intervention price for milk. Longer term, the industry will of course continue to examine commercial solutions that may be able to deliver greater stability and predictability for farmers.
“The committee has recognised that no statutory or voluntary code of practice can regulate milk price in an open market. We are pleased the committee believes the voluntary code of practice should remain voluntary and also welcome recognition that the code does not, and cannot, influence prices.
“We understand the committee’s recommendation on the development of producer organisations is interesting. We recognise that they could be of benefit to farmers going forward, but in those countries where producer groups exist, there is little evidence that they have been able to protect farmers from price volatility.
“We do not believe that extending the powers of the Grocery Code Adjudicator would help to address the challenge of volatility, and contractual relationships between farmers and processors that are already covered by the voluntary code.”