Support for British dairy farmers from the public, processors, retailers and Government is vital since farmgate milk prices have plummeted following the trend on world markets, the NFU has said.
Ongoing global market volatility has seen a 50% reduction in prices during recent months, resulting in a farmgate price drop for dairy farmers of between 20-30%.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said these were “extremely worrying” times for farmers and called on all areas of the agricultural supply chain to help ensure current difficulties were minimal and short-lived.
“As a dairy farmer myself I know what farmers up and down the country are going through,” he said. “These are extremely turbulent times.
“That is why it is absolutely vital that everyone in the dairy supply chain shows commitment at this time.
“Milk processors, retailers and dairy farmers must work together to minimise the impact of the current price falls on dairy farmers and look to the future by opening up new markets for milk and creating new products.”
In 2012, the UK milk price languished at the bottom of the EU league tables while world prices continued to rise, causing significant problems for British dairy farmers.
According to Mr Raymond, the market was “completely dysfunctional” at the time.
“That is why the NFU led the way with SOS Dairy, holding peaceful protests, and taking that campaign to retailers and processors,” he said. “We engaged directly with the public and their support continues to stand us in good stead today.
“This work led to the coalition that worked with Government to form the Voluntary Code, giving much confidence back to our farmers.
“Two years on farmers are rightly angry and frustrated about their current situation; although we’re not bottom of the EU league tables, the drop in UK milk prices is putting major pressure on our dairy farmers.”
The NFU says it continues to hold regular meetings with all the main retailers and processors, holding them to account, ensuring any price rises go back to farmers and that price falls are not used as an excuse for unfair behaviour.
“We continue to lobby Government at the highest level on issues that impact on our members, such as CAP and TB, and we remain committed to continue the work we started with the voluntary code, implementing next steps,” Mr Raymond said.
“Fighting for functioning markets and fairer contracts is ultimately the best way to achieve farm gate milk prices that fairly reflect the value of milk.
“However it is absolutely vital that retailers and processors live up to their visible commitments and back British dairy farming to ensure we have a sustainable dairy industry in the future.
“We urge the public to also back British farming by buying British milk and dairy products that carry the Red Tractor logo.
“British dairy farmers know and appreciate that ongoing consumer support, so to them I say thank you.”