UK needs ‘robust farming sector’

Nick Whelan, Group Chief Executive at Dale Farm.
Nick Whelan, Group Chief Executive at Dale Farm.

Dale Farm Group Chief Executive Nick Whelan believes that the UK government wants to develop a more robust farming industry.

Recently appointed to the Food and Drink Sector Council, a body charged with the responsibility of developing a more sustainable food and drink industry across the United Kingdom, he strongly advocates the principle of governments looking beyond the next election cycle when it comes to the future development of production agriculture.

Mr Whelan said: “The world’s population is set to reach nine billion people over the coming years. Long before we reach that point the world may well have run out of the soil and water resources required to feed a global population of this size.

“This is the key weakness of the UK following a cheap food policy. Given this scenario, the UK must put in place structures which ensure that its farming industry has the wherewithal to address the food security challenge on its own door step. The primary responsibility of government is that of feeding its own people.”

Dale Farm will have a major presence at this year’s Balmoral Show. The days running up to the event will see Northern Ireland’s largest farmer-owned dairy cooperative preparing to report another strong year for its farmer members. The full financial results will be officially reported over the coming weeks.

“Over the past 12 months, we have focused on an ambitious growth strategy to grow our presence across the UK and ultimately deliver the best possible milk price to our farmers at all times,” said Nick Whelan.

“In doing so, we have significantly strengthened our partnerships with major retail customers, bringing our products into the hands of more consumers than ever before.

“This growth has been achieved while modelling a significant proportion of our product range to ensure our farmers and customers are protected from the extremes of the commodity cycles. In general, our UK retail and industrial customers have been very supportive of our various initiatives at modelling, which reduces security of supply concerns for our customers while also reducing extreme commodity volatility for our farmers.

“With respect to our operations, we have invested into technologies at our factories in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, resulting in increased operating efficiencies. We are also employing the Japanese Lean principles across our network, which is having a significant influence on our performance.”

He continued:“Most importantly, this is good news for the backbone of Dale Farm; our farmer members who continue to drive the cooperative’s success by supplying us with the highest quality milk.”

Recent weeks have seen Dale Farm confirming an interest in securing a possible joint venture agreement with LacPatrick Dairies.

Commenting on this matter, Mr Whelan said: “We have formally entered into a process with a view to a potential strategic collaboration.”