Dairy Farmer Articles

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

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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IP Dairy Farmer - March 2020

If there is one episode in recent years that illustrates the merciless attitude of some retailers towards suppliers it’s the Sainsburys-Tomlinsons disgrace.  So many thanks to the anonymous reader who kindly sent me notes from the December meeting involving Tomlinson’s SDDG suppliers. At the meeting Melanie Cherchian, Sainsburys’ Head of Dairy, defended the retailer’s decision to move to “second tier processors” in 2016, on the grounds that “competition would give us leverage, which would be good for everybody”.

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IP Dairy Farmer - February 2020

Back in 2010 the Irish Government set a target to increase its milk output by 2020 by a whopping 50% from 4.9 to 7.5 billion litres. The plan was called The Food Harvest 2020. Now it really is 2020, and the Irish have smashed that target, and increased volumes to 8 billion litres (+63%) in 2019, and it is still growing now. The 2020 figure is likely to be near to 70%.

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IP Dairy Farmer - January 2020

There’s no doubt Red Tractor (RT) upped its game in 2019, but not before time. It claims it now has teeth and that serious non conformers are immediately suspended. However, it appears a number of dairy farmers continue to take the view that they wait for the audit to alert them to any failures, following which they need to correct them, obtain a pass, and then return to business as usual.

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