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DAIRY EVENT: Investigations Continue In Great Milk Robbery

08 September 2010
National Farmers Union

UK - In a follow up to its Great Milk Robbery Report the National Farmers' Union is laying down the gauntlet to milk processors and retailers to stop finding excuses and work with dairy farmers to explain why they are yet to see their fair share of better market returns.

Two months since the Robbery Report launch, NFU President Peter Kendall said the case for an increase was just as strong. Talking after his address to members at this year’s Dairy and Livestock show, being held at the NEC, Mr Kendall told farmers that the response to the Report had been unsatisfactory and warranted further investigation.

“Our report challenged milk buyers on why dairy farmers were not getting their share and it is very disappointing to say that the responses we’ve had so far do not go far enough,” said Mr Kendall.

“Let me summarise what we’ve been told; some milk buyers are blaming other milk buyers for holding the market down, some are blaming the retailers for driving hard bargains and some buyers are accusing others of being weak sellers. The only consistent message coming from milk buyers is that everybody else is to blame. Our members deserve a better explanation.

“Dairy farmers across the country have applauded the work we did on exposing the Great Milk Robbery with many feeling it was a timely, hard hitting and much-needed piece of work. However, they rightly want to know what happens next?

“The Great Milk Robbery is unfinished business. The conflicting nature of the responses we’ve had back tells me that there’s much more that needs investigating and today I’m asking milk buyers and retailers to answer some simple questions namely;

  • In an attempt to bring to an end the blame game, why have British dairy farmers still not received their fair share of improved market returns?

  • As retail margins on milk and cheese increased again in 2009/10, can retailers guarantee that farmers won’t end up paying for what we see as damaging promotions?

    Dedicated chains are valued by dairy farmers, and advocated by the NFU, but how can retailers reassure farmers that retendering their liquid milk contracts will not jeopardise the relationships that they have built up with their dedicated dairy farmer suppliers?

  • Those operating in the commodity end of the market have to be as efficient as possible. How long will it be until we have one farmer-controlled processor, producing the vast majority of these products in Britain in order to ensure maximum profitably?

“I’ll be writing to milk buyers and retailers this week to pose these questions, and others, to express my on-going concerns and I will be publishing the conclusions in due course to highlight the processors and retailers who do not engage in this urgent debate.”

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