Tenant Farmers Association – serious choices face us all

The Tenant Farmers Association believes as a nation it is time to decide what sort of dairy industry we want to see in our country and to put together a plan to achieve that vision.

TFA National Chairman, Stephen Wyrill said “Dairy farmers have been told to work within the marketplace, to become less dependent on support policies and to drive efficiencies within their businesses. All this has been done and will continue to be done but we cannot get away from the facts that dairy farmers produce a perishable product, face long production cycles, exposure to the elements, battles with livestock disease and an unbalanced relationship with its processor/retailer customer base. It is for these reasons that frustrated dairy farmers are expressing their discontent through the protests ably organised by Farmers for Action”.

“An average of 16 dairy farmers a week are giving up milk production in England and Wales. If that trend continues, we will be below 10,000 producers in England and Wales within a month. Processors and retailers rely upon portraying to their customers an image of the industry of healthy cows being looked after by benevolent but skilful farm families in traditional, outdoor units. However, by their actions they are driving these types of production system to the wall. It is time processors and retailers began to invest in these values before they disappear altogether. In its place we will have ever-increasing herd sizes based on indoor systems on a very large scale. Not that there isn’t a place for those type of systems but consumers surely want the confidence of knowing that the products they purchase match the brand values they espouse in reality,” said Mr Wyrill.

“Anne Macintosh MP for Thirsk and Malton and Chair of the House of Commons Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee has called just recently for the powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator to be extended to cover the pricing mechanisms between farmers and processors in the dairy sector. The TFA would support that call. We need a pricing structure which benefits all parts of the supply chain from producer to consumer. If the powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator were to be extended in this way it might be possible to broker a sustainable settlement perhaps using the recently announced milk formula suggested by Farmers for Action as a starting point,” said Mr Wyrill.

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