It’s good to see progress in the current dairy industry crisis, with the voluntary code of practice for milk contracts and discussions about producer organisations finally taking place.
The milk price crisis has seen an ‘all hands on deck’ response from industry bodies over the past couple of months, all playing to their own strengths while working closely with each other to find a way forwards.
DairyCo’s role during this challenging time – given it can’t lobby, be political or get directly involved in milk price issues – has been to supply evidence for those that can, such as the farming unions.
Proof of what happens in the supply chain and of who gets what margin is critical to the whole debate, and this has been borne out by how busy our press office has been over the past few weeks coming up with those facts and figures.
We’ve handled scores of media Inquiries from the likes of BBC Countryfile and Newsnight, prepared briefing notes and readied farmers for media interviews and discussions with milk buyers.
So when you hear facts and figures on the TV and radio, or read them in the press, this information has almost certainly come from DairyCo.
Any farmers preparing to have difficult conversations with their milk buyers can also access specialist support from DairyCo – just get in touch or come and see us at Livestock 2012 at the NEC in Birmingham on September 4 and 5.
In the meantime, it’s also important to keep focusing on the job in hand during what is proving to be a very challenging production year.
Our Forage for Knowledge weekly e-briefings are providing essential information to tide producers through the rest of the season and prepare for what could be a difficult winter in terms of availability of quality forage and cereal costs.
And our mastitis and lameness programmes are helping hundreds of farmers reduce the cost of these diseases while improving cow welfare.
So we may not be on the front line waving banners during these tricky times, but we’re playing to our strengths by delivering facts to ensure the debate is built on a sound evidence base, and farmers have the best chance of getting through a difficult season.
Hugh Black, DairyCo extension officer