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Industry Bodies Unite in Aid of Milk Co-op Collapse

19 June 2009
National Farmers Union

UK - The National Farmers Union (NFU) has joined forces with English Farming and Food Partnerships (EFFP) and Dairy UK to offer a range of support services for dairy farmers who have yet to find buyers for their milk following the collapse of Dairy Farmers of Britain.

The decision was taken following a meeting this week (Wednesday) involving industry bodies, Government officials and the receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers which was attended by new Farming Minister Jim Fitzpatrick.

Hayley Campbell Gibbons, the NFU's chief dairy adviser, said: "Since DFOB went into receivership on June 3 everyone has been making every effort to ensure that as many farmers as possible have been able to find alternative buyers for their milk.

"The latest figures from the receivers reveal that some 200 of the initial 1,800 farmers have still not found a new home for their milk. Although this figure is an encouraging indicator that the vast majority of farmers have successfully found a new buyer, we must make sure that every possible avenue has been explored to find new buyers for these remaining farmers, for whom the only alternative option will be to exit the dairy industry.

"Many of these farmers are situated in remote locations or are producing small volumes of milk and therefore are not attractive to the larger milk buyers, most of which have now taken on their maximum capacity of additional supply. However, the NFU has received a number of concerning reports from young dairy farmers, who have expansion plans, that have been caught out by these events as well as a number of progressive, enthusiastic and specialist producers who passionately wish to remain in dairying."

In an effort to help as many of the remaining farmers as possible, the NFU, in partnership with EFFP, is offering dairy farmers a number of support services.

Farmers who wish to stay in dairying and believe that, with help, they may have a viable future can contact an EFFP regional manager to talk through their ideas and options. Where there could be an opportunity for dairy farmers to work together and jointly look at new options for marketing their milk EFFP may be able to provide more detailed help.

EFFP can also put individual farmers who may need technical or financial advice in touch with Business Link who will be able to outline what support is available including, in some cases, specialist agricultural consultants.

The NFU, EFFP and Dairy UK have also set up a linkage scheme which will hopefully enable farmers to make contact with smaller, specialist buyers and dairies who may be interested in taking on new suppliers.

David Neal-Smith, from EFFP, said: "Working with dairy farmers in Yorkshire and the North East, EFFP has already managed to help relocate a number of individual farmers, so I am confident that there are options out there for those farmers who believe they still have a viable future in dairy farming."

Jim Begg, Director General of Dairy UK said: "There has been an overwhelmingly encouraging response from the dairy companies to this difficult situation. Our members have moved fast to help farmers find a new home for their milk and worked hard to resolve any issues as quickly as possible.

"However, it is important that we explore every avenue possible and Dairy UK, with its ability to communicate with smaller manufacturers and farm processors and with regional staff on the ground, is willing to assist in any way it can in finding homes for as much of the remaining milk as possible."

Hayley Campbell Gibbons added: "This is a transitional period, both for the dairy farmers that have been affected by these events and for the wider dairy industry and it is crucial that we all work together to minimise any possible long term detrimental impact. Any interested buyers should make contact with Dairy UK or the NFU as soon as possible to enable us to act quickly in assisting the remaining producers."

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