Phil Latham: The dairy industry needs innovation to add value and enthusiastic ambassadors'


Last week I was delighted to attend the launch of the ‘Enjoy Milk’ campaign and brand. I must admit the day started a little bizarrely when I was discussing the recent milk price rises with a milk processor who wondered aloud whether the prices would rise above the cost of production before dropping again.


It is a funny old world isn’t it, the idea of selling something for more than it costs to produce. It will never catch on.


The dairy industry needs innovation to add value and enthusiastic ambassadors who want to champion better ways of doing business. Fairer contracts attempting to fix terms and share more equitably the available margin should be something we can all get behind.


The campaign hopes to create more choice by allowing customers who want to support grazing-based systems the chance to buy milk in the full knowledge that when conditions are right the cows have access to grass and the freedom to graze.


I would hope it is something we can get behind and I look forward to watching this brand and campaign grow. What would top it off nicely is if a road map into how this could become a farmer-owned producer organisation could be forthcoming.


There is a lot of uncertainty about how our industry will cope with Brexit. I am guessing handouts for low prices will become something our governments are less likely to support and so the £25.6 million package secured by the Government to help livestock and dairy farmers as part of the EU Adjustment Aid Scheme will need to be invested wisely as there will not be much coming in the future.


It was interesting to read reports of Andrea Leadsome’s speech at the Oxford farming Conference that our future lies in exports with countries like China. What could we do to facilitate this transformation for farmers?


Could Defra have invested a chunk of the money in a new farmer-owned export-company with UK-branded products utilising existing spare contract processing capacity, I suspect if we were entrepreneurial enough we could.


If we had allocated shares and used the money for leverage we could probably have doubled the pot with farmer contributions, appointed an experienced chief executive and begun our journey into the Far East, benefiting all dairy farmers. Instead we have invested in slurry store covers, an easily administered tick box exercise for civil servants with little ambition.

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