With many dairy farmers facing further milk price cuts this May and June and as the sector experiences the lowest average milk price for seven years, the NFU has called on all within the supply chain to recognise the seriousness of the situation and seek solutions.
Major milk buyers such as Arla, First Milk, Muller and Dairy Crest have now announced further milk price cuts which will come into force in the coming weeks. The average milk price for March stood at the lowest it has been since 2009 – with some farmers across the country on milk prices well below 16ppl.
NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes said even the most efficient dairy farmers cannot survive at these levels.
“There’s no question that this is the most difficult time many dairy farmers have ever faced with milk prices far below breakeven levels,” said Mr Oakes. “In the Copa milk meeting this week we saw the same sentiment shared across Europe. What we have seen is that UK dairy farmers are reacting to the market reality – with daily milk volumes now falling below production this time last year. This unfortunately is not the case elsewhere in Europe. Processors must clearly explain to farmers what they are doing to try to add value at this difficult time and farmers need to be honest with supplier on their production plans for the months ahead.
“Later this week I’ll be attending a Risk Management seminar in Belfast. We need UK processors and co-operatives to consider new ways for managing risk to support both themselves and their supplying farmers – continuing to follow the market down is not good enough.
“We thank those retailer businesses that have stuck by their initiatives on liquid milk and cheese throughout this market downturn. Retailer initiatives can bring sustainability for dairy farmers. We would like to see all stakeholders within the supply chain take steps towards introducing sustainable principles into their own supply chains. This would give greater collaboration allowing for supply chain efficiencies and ensuring the UK dairy sector remains competitive on a global market.”