NFU Scotland has called on the dairy supply chain to deliver “fairer returns” to farmers at a time when processors are cutting their milk prices.
The union says the returns from the supply chain to Scottish and UK dairy farmers are lagging significantly behind those enjoyed by European and New Zealand dairy producers.
NFUS vice-president and Stranraer dairy farmer, Gary Mitchell, said although the union understood that milk commodity prices were weakening, it was not fair for producers to bear the brunt of this.
“The global nature of the dairy sector means no one is immune from high volatility, low margins and uncertainty which impacts on confidence to invest and innovate,” said Mr Mitchell.
“While NFUS acknowledges the pressures of the competitive market, we make no apologies for arguing that farmers cannot continue to be at the sharp end of this pressure.”
He said statistics from AHDB Dairy revealed that in the past 12 months the average milk price in New Zealand had been ahead of the UK, and farmers in northern Europe had been paid up to 6p a litre more than those in the UK.
“While there will be many varied reasons for this, the result is that dairy farmers in Scotland and the UK have little confidence that the supply chain is fairly sharing returns from high-value dairy products with those milking the cows,” said Mr Mitchell.
“This is a travesty as global dairy demand, both short and long term, remains strong.”
He urged milk buyers and end-users not to take milk supply for granted and said the latest statistics, which show a loss of 39 herds to 918 in the past year, should act as a stark reminder that dairy farmers were continuing to leave the industry. “While Scottish dairy farmers are amongst the most efficient – and always striving to improve – we need a supply chain that works to ensure the dairy sector is functioning for all.”