National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

27 July 2012

YFC members up and down the country are making their feelings clear and supporting dairy farmers during the current protest against milk price cuts made this spring and further cuts expected on August 1.

The protest has called for dairy farmers to receive a price for their milk that covers the cost of production. Vice-chairman of the NFYFC agriculture committee and Gloucestershire YFC member Chris Bateman said: “If one of the farmers that I work for had a 2 pence cut he would lose an estimated £30,000 per year, that money would be the wages for two young farmers on that farm.”

NFU President Peter Kendall has stated that with three major retailers and Aldi all having made commitments in recent days the attention turns not only to other outlets but also to milk processors. He now expects them: Wiseman/Muller, Dairy Crest and Arla to play their part and commit to rescinding their price cuts before the dairy coalition’s 1st August deadline. Many YFC members attended the NFU Dairy Summit at Central Hall, Westminster and some have been taking some light-hearted but hard-hitting action to highlight dairy farmers’ plight to consumers.

Helen Reeve, NFYFC’s agriculture chairman whole-heartedly supports the NFU campaign and is proud to see many young farmers across the county helping to highlight the issue and secure their farming future. “The level of support for UK dairy farmers has been overwhelming; this is certainly an emotional subject for all those connected in the dairy sector. Price cuts for milk contracts will ultimately result in more dairy farmers being forced to reconsider their businesses which will in turn have a knock-on effect for employment which is a pertinent subject for young farmers and new entrants. It’s often been said that farming isn't just a job it’s a way of life and over the last few weeks this really has been brought to the public's attention.

Those who have taken part in the many protests across the country and at the Dairy Summit at Westminster have helped to highlight the issue of supermarket pricing to the consumer. Back in my home county of Norfolk, myself and fellow YFC dairy farmer members are showcasing dairy farming at a number of local events to highlight the benefits of milk and dairy products, the price of milk and how much it costs to produce. It’s important that we keep fighting for a fair price for milk to ensure that dairy farming is not a forgotten sector of UK agriculture.”

Halesworth YFC member and dairy farmer’s daughter Helen Walker was part of a YFC delegation from Suffolk attending the Dairy Summit and is delighted to see the WI lend their weight to reaching consumers. She acknowledges that social media will play an important role in spreading the message of the campaign and was heartened to see many young farmers at the summit which bodes well for support of the dairy industry. Helen maintains that posting positive messages to consumers is key to getting the public on board to support the plight of dairy farmers.

Wales YFC member and dairy farmer William Lawrence represents young farmers on the Defra Dairy Forum and is also chairman of the NFU Next Generation Forum. He felt that the huge gathering of dairy farmers in central London at the recent Dairy Summit sent out a strong message to the rest of the supply chain, consumers and Government of both the financial desperation and the unity among British dairy farmers. Particularly heartening from a young producer's perspective was seeing farmers pulling together to strengthen their position in the supply chain.

William thought that producers probably went to the summit meeting with two clear aims. Firstly to continue to stress the need for fair and sustainable prices for their milk and to see progress made in discussions of the voluntary code of practice. Secondly about short term survival in the face of rising inputs costs, poor weather conditions and little justification for price cuts within the dairy markets.

He is pleased that since the summit meeting it appears that progress has been made on both fronts. William says: “This progress is crucial. Without certainty that the market place operates in a logical manner and that contractual terms offer balance and clarity it is impossible for farmers to continue to make the considerable investments in their business which are continually needed to improve efficiencies and welfare let alone expansion. It would be equally difficult for the next generation of farmer or worker to justify investing their time and effort in the dairy industry and this would have far greater implications for future milk supplies and the rural economy.”

Herefordshire YFC member Jono Rogers represented young farmers on the recent Dairy sub-group of the Defra Green Food Project. One of the outcomes of the project has been a ‘Farmers for the Future’ group that will explore barriers and opportunities for young farmers. It is hoped that his work and that of the project will not be in vain when it comes to the future of the dairy industry.

For members who would like to explore further details of the campaign there is an advice page for further action on the NFU website. Dairy farmers must be paid more for their milk.

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