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Tomlinson’s suppliers on their own

The NFU believes it has done all it can to help unfortunate producers caught in the Tomlinson’s crash at the end of last year.

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NFU dairy board chairman, Michael Oakes
NFU dairy board chairman, Michael Oakes

The NFU believes it has done all it can to help unfortunate producers caught in the Tomlinson’s crash at the end of last year.

 

Michael Oakes, dairy board chairman, said: “We have made sure they have had the best advice from our legal assistance scheme and our own internal lawyers, and ultimately it is about their relationship with Sainsbury’s and their processor and that is their decision.”

 

It is believed Sainsbury’s have offered interest-free loans to their aligned members, but non-aligned producers look like they would be getting nothing at all.

 

Mr Oakes said: “We have met with both pools and been informing them what the administration process meant, and clearly there is little or no money in there and very little chance of farmers getting anything back.”

 

Responsibility

 

Asked whether Sainsbury’s had a greater moral responsibility since it transferred its suppliers in the first place, he said: “We have made the ethical argument to Sainsbury’s, but there is a legal position and the farmers were assigned to Tomlinson’s, not to Sainsbury’s, and all we can do is give the farmers the legal position.

 

“In an ideal world, it would have been nice if they had stepped in and paid the money, but suppliers will have to take their own decision going forward.”


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Unified approach to dairy exports

NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes called for a much more collaborative approach along the Irish lines to finding new markets outside of the EU.

 

Speaking at the Dairy-Tech event, he said: “The dairy growth areas in the world are in Africa and Asia and, if our Government is serious about opening up those markets, we need to create a Bord Bia-type structure where we are working with Government, processors and primary producers to access those new markets.”

 

Processors

 

He said a lot of the UK powder processors were already supplying these overseas markets outside of Europe and the real issue in the UK at the moment was liquid milk.

 

Mr Oakes said: “There is 5ppl difference between the worst and the best out there and for some there is a slim margin and for others no margin at all.

 

“The Arla price is the European price and, if you took away the issues here in the liquid market, that is where our milk price should be. We have specific issues here with liquid which have undermined our market.”

 

On the Muller front, he said the NFU had been speaking with Muller, which expected to be back in profit by the middle of the summer, and was being ‘much bolder with some of its customers and we hope to see that coming back into producers’ pockets in the future’.

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