Dairy Farmer Articles

Please note copies of the Dairy Farmer articles dating back to 1991 can be requested by emailing info@ipmsltd.co.uk.

IP Dairy Farmer - March 2021

The eye watering cost of the dreadful Covid pandemic will have to be paid for, and will be a liability many of us will leave behind for future generations. There are rumblings that the previous DEFRA/Government pledge to maintain UK agriculture funding at the same level as paid out under BPS in 2020 (c. £3.5 billion a year until 2027) is likely to take a hair cut in order to pay for Covid.

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IP Dairy Farmer - February 2021

It’s only two days since my January article landed on farm, and already there are umpteen interesting and jaw dropping comments on Red Tractor and its assessors for this article. At processor level several set out to achieve Red Tractor’s minimal standards at farm level, in fact a few are guilty of defending low farmer standards! Others, for example Arla, Muller and First Milk, have decided that Red Tractor standards are a low base line, and have introduced their own standards in a bid to uphold and protect the industry’s reputation.

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IP Dairy Farmer - January 2021

Last month’s article resulted in 37 email responses and regrettably, the majority (36!) were decidedly negative as to Red Tractor’s current performance, and commented that my last article was close to a bullseye. Indeed, one who had significant experience in milk processing and marketing - as well as arable and dairy farming - stated that “I have experienced the Red Tractor Scheme from both sides of the fence and it’s not fit for purpose”.

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IP Dairy Farmer - December 2020

It goes from bad to worse for Red Tractor doesn’t it! It recently experienced a PR clangor when Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the chairwoman of Assured Food Standards (which owns the Red Tractor brand), voted WITH the Government Bill on food standards, thus voting NOT to ban imports produced to lower standards than those of the UK. Talk about shooting yourself in both feet!  This was in contrast to the principles adopted by the Tory chairman of the EFRA Committee and Tiverton and Honiton MP, Neil Parish.

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IP Dairy Farmer - November 2020

Although some readers will no doubt be convinced that the gospel according to the NFU’s on DEFRA’s milk contract reform is one of the biggest challenges/issues facing the industry, you won’t be surprised to learn I continue to disagree. In fact, my position is that a maximum of five GB processors/milk brokers operate unfairly / dubiously, and they should be dealt with individually.

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IP Dairy Farmer - October 2020

As I pen this article the Government’s milk contract consultation has just closed. The Farming Unions, as the main promotor for contract reform for over a decade, detailed five “asks to Government”, which, for me, seemed more based on emotion rather than hard fact (unless the facts are within their submission). But the processor’s organisation Dairy UK’s response has clearly been a factually orientated submission, being supported by an independent overview report into the UK Dairy Market by the globally recognised consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY).

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IP Dairy Farmer - September 2020

Dairy farmers are currently being encouraged to respond to DEFRA’s milk contract consultation which seeks “to end unfair practices across the UK’s dairy sector”. The submission deadline is 15th September. The NFU and NFUS have been pushing for contract reform since 2011 and are the UK dairy Industry’s equivalent of religious zealots on the subject. The voluntary code was an attempt to improve the balance, however it has seen few milk purchasers stick to its commitments, particularly when it comes to farmgate milk price changes.

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IP Dairy Farmer - August 2020

Earlier this year, I described Sainsbury’s reputation with its aligned producers as continuing to slide downhill, particularly for those who have faced the impact of the Tomlinson’s collapse. Well Sainsburys (SDDG) aligned farmers are once again furious at how the retail giant “is walking all over us to the point we feel like contract milkers and may as well hand over control of our farm to Sainsbury’s”.

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IP Dairy Farmer - July 2020

Last month’s article, with one memorable exception, was easily the most positively commented article in almost 30 years of writing this column. So thank you to all who took the time to respond. Most of the comments were identical in tone, and along similar lines to these three:  “Most of us have been treated like sh!t over recent months, and we’re sick to the back teeth with it.

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IP Dairy Farmer - June 2020

Last month’s scaremongering suggesting the UK dairy industry was heading for Armageddon was dismissed by all but a minority of dairy farmers. There are tough times, for some, admittedly, but no Armageddon. However, the English and Welsh Governments have been persuaded to launch dairy farmer hardship funds of up to £10,000, which was greeted by some farmers as disappointing, embarrassing and ill-conceived.

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IP Dairy Farmer - May 2020

I have been writing this article alongside my free dairy newsletter for the past 29 years, and I have never experienced the volatility together with unforeseen, abrupt, and frightening changes that we have witnessed so far in April. It made me tentative about what to write, knowing it could all change before it was published! The problem was simple: dairy processors could not convert or divert cancelled foodservice orders into the retail sector.

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IP Dairy Farmer - April 2020

Following on from the collapse of Tomlinson Dairies few involved will be surprised to learn that Sainsbury's believe they don't owe their supplying farmers anything. Surprisingly, prior to it taking the hard-line stance that farmers could whistle for their lost milk money, much to the surprise of many one of the Sainsburys Dairy Development Group farmer committee members suggested that unaffected SDDG farmers should pay towards the losses sustained by their Tomlinsons colleagues.

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