Dairy farmers are facing a downturn of ’unprecedented’ severity and duration, NFU Scotland has warned.
Echoing the sentiments expressed in the past week by NFU dairy board chairman Rob Harrison, as well as quota broker Ian Potter writing in Farmers Guardian’s sister publication Dairy Farmer, NFUS said many farmers could be on the brink of exiting the industry.
The past week has seen Muller and Sorn both drop their farmgate milk prices yet again.
NFUS policy manager George Jamieson said: “It is critical and undeniable that all parts of the supply chain must better share the risks and rewards of the volatile market we now face. Dairy producers are currently carrying too much of the burden and have not benefited enough from the opportunities.
“Analysts remain convinced the future is positive for the dairy sector, but for this to be a reality we must see tangible evidence processors, retailers and all end users can all work collaboratively to overcome the massive challenges of peaks and troughs of volatility and competition. Scotland wants to be a part of dairying’s future, but all parties cannot take dairy farmers for granted.
“While demonstrations and lobbying resulted in some well-meaning initiatives from some retailers, and we are aware some processors have worked hard to limit price cuts, the situation is now more serious than ever.
"We need more meaningful strategic initiatives from our customers which are more subtle and effective than reactive discretionary pricing.
“There are still anomalies and a lack of transparency in dairy chains which ferments uncertainty and a crucial lack of trust."
Mr Harrison told NFU council this week there was no end in sight to the current price problems and these were being exacerbated by the fact dairy farmers across Europe were producing more milk than last year.
Mr Potter, writing in the January edition of Dairy Farmer, said: "Until Europe cuts milk output any recovery is a distant dream – unless nature intervenes.
"It is time to buckle up, cut costs and refrain from chasing volume. More milk equals less money, and less equals more."