Dairy producers raly behind their produce

NFU Scotland’s Milk Committee is calling for dairy producers in Galloway and across the UK to pull together and take the positive story behind Scottish and British dairy produce direct to the consumer.

The Union believes that a farmer-led campaign built around positive, proactive, promotional activity at retailers – developed in conjunction with stakeholders such DairyCo, Dairy UK and fellow farming unions - will highlight the quality, variety and value of the nation’s dairy produce.

During this period of low farmgate prices, Milk Committee members agreed that a collaborative promotion effort will help reinforce the support already apparent from British consumers to buy British dairy produce. That message can be enhanced by dairy farmers meeting face-to-face with consumers and giving them a taste of the delicious, high quality, highly nutritious farm-assured produce originating from our dairy farms.

The members of the Union’s Milk Committee are all working dairy farmers producing milk in every region of Scotland. They vary in size and scale of business and, because they supply all the main milk processors in Scotland, there is a wide variation in the milk price they currently receive. The price gap between those on the milk committee is now as much as 8p per litre, despite all sharing similar levels of cost.

There was, however, unanimity within the group to support a positive campaign involving the nation’s highly professional and dedicated farmers and the many quality products produced in Scotland and the UK.

NFU Scotland’s Milk Committee Chairman, Gary Mitchell said: “The current volatile price swings are hugely challenging for farmers but some self-promotion of our products, ensuring that they are increasing sought out by our loyal consumers could help strengthen returns to the sector, particularly at this difficult time.

“Over the last few weeks I have spoken to many dairy farmers who have raised concerns on what the future holds. In discussions with Cumbrian producer, Lesley Armstrong he justifiably asked the question of what can we, as dairy farmers, do to help ourselves during the current situation?

“Our milk committee asked the same question and came to the conclusion that we have an opportunity to go out and actively promote to consumers the great produce we create on a daily basis, helping to improve our situation.

“We appreciate our levy body DairyCo may not have a big marketing budget to specifically promote dairy, but it does have the potential to co-ordinate a farmer-led promotional campaign over a weekend. That would then give our dairy processors and their umbrella organisation Dairy UK to get on board and help us to promote our produce in all of our regional areas.

“We will be discussing the potential of a nationwide campaign with other farming unions. For Scottish producers who are keen to be involved in the promotion at their local supermarket, please contact your NFUS Milk Committee representative, your DairyCo extension officer, or myself on 07885 581 580.

“DairyCo can assist the farming unions to coordinate our efforts and Dairy UK can encourage its processors members to donate dairy products, and we can work to mobilise farmers and their families to promote all things dairy, at some point in the near future.”

“Support from producers across the UK could make this work.

“In Scotland, last August’s promotional campaign of Scotch lamb, where samples of tasty Scotch lamb were given out at supermarkets across the country over one weekend, sales of the meat rise by 11 per cent. If we could raise milk sales by just five per cent our spring flush would all but vanish.”

Milk Committee member James Rankin, a fourth generation farmer from Cumbernauld, who farms 160 Ayrshire cows, commented:

“We need to move on from all the moaning and groaning, and start to think positively and look to what we can proactively do ourselves. We need to promote rather than protest. I saw what had been done by Quality Meat Scotland and there’s no reason that can’t work for dairy produce.

“It is clear from petitions that are circulating, and by speaking to members of the public, that they are behind us, and we need to get out to supermarkets and encourage more people not just to drink more milk, but to use more dairy products, from cheese to cream.”

Ends

Note to Editors

· For NFU Scotland members looking to get involved in the campaign, please contact your local Milk Committee representative, or Milk Committee Chairman Gary Mitchell on 07885 581 580.

NFU Scotland | Rural Centre, West Mains, Ingliston, Newbridge, EH28 8LT

Tel: 0131 472 4000 | Email: nfuscotland@nfus.org.uk | Website: http://www.nfus.org.uk/

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