On Monday there was a good rally at Lanark with collaboration and solidarity the main theme throughout. As the Farmers Weekly report stated perhaps the best applause was for Richard Lochhead when he stated that dairy farmers had given society in general a wake-up call.
A new umbrella association, Dairy Farmers Together (DFT) has been formed by NFU Scotland to build on the industry’s lobbying achievements over the past two weeks and provide a foundation for future Producer Organisations.
The initiative announced at the rally, which was attended by over 500 dairy farmers from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, immediately attracted £100,000 of start-up finance from the Scottish Government. The Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) will take the initiative forward.
NFU Scotland Milk Committee Vice Chairman, Rory Christie added:
“I am sure we can make a difference and drive change through a collaborative organisation that brings together all dairy farmers. The presence of English, Welsh and Northern Irish farmers here today suggests the appetite for change is across the UK. Dairy Farmers Together can be an umbrella organisation that takes nothing away from the individual organisations but instead adds to the strength of the whole.”
The Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary promises to put legislation in place if a voluntary code of practice does not materialise
The Scottish Government’s rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead earned several standing ovations for his support for the coalition’s achievements to date and his promise to write to all public sector suppliers to ask that they ensure that appropriate and responsible milk sourcing is in place across the whole sector. He also promised to put legislation in place if a voluntary code of practice does not materialise. The BBC reported that he said: “It’s ludicrous that our dairy farmers are paid less than the cost of production for each and every pint of milk.
But most applause came for this statement: “We need a national debate about the retail culture in this country because it’s not just the milk industry which is being affected. You have given society a wake up call and you should be proud of what you’ve achieved.”
“We need a definitive long term outcome not a series of short term wins.”
As Rory Christie said: “We need a definitive long term outcome not a series of short term wins. We need to change the whole dairy industry not just a single part so that we don’t have to keep fighting outside processors or retailers depots every time they decide to steal a bit of our livelihood.”
The Scotsman reported the standing ovation for Lochhead, adding:
“Lochhead not only announced the cash to look at more co-operation, he also promised the government would look into the ethics and practices of the major retailers in their buying policies – and he made it clear he was not just referring to milk purchasing.
“He also promised to look at having a statutory code of conduct for those operating in the milk chain if the voluntary one preferred by the UK government failed to materialise.
“The meeting, including the Welsh contingent, rose to its feet in support of his words.”