British dairy farmers want AHDB Dairy to focus on survival
“Whilst RABDF applauds AHDB Dairy's proposals for a small number of high profile campaigns to target areas of significant importance including the proposed 'Calf to Calving' campaign, we believe that the current dire economic circumstances in which many dairy farmers find themselves, particularly if they are not on retailer aligned contracts, is one which should be the key priority,” writes RABDF policy director, Tim Brigstocke in the Association's response to AHDB Dairy's consultation document.
“AHDB Dairy's intentions for the next 18 months should be focusing on how to 'survive' in a global down turn, however very little in its Business Plan indicates the harsh reality in which many dairy farmers find themselves.
“Consequently we have called for a revised suite of AHDB Dairy activities that will include looking at areas such as new milk price formulas and particularly the development of a Futures market, promotion of better labelling and in general, more targeted and effective generic milk advertising to back up the excellent work being conducted under the 'protecting the image of dairy farming' theme.
“We have also called for a revised spend on R&D/Knowledge Exchange to which almost 70% of AHDB Dairy's total budget has been allocated whilst just 5% has been scheduled for export/trade development and supply chain integration,” he says.
“Ongoing R&D and appropriate KE are clearly vital, however there needs to be a more realistic split between the various activities that are within the overall remit of a levy body. One of the opportunities that the more integrated AHDB levy board offers is the chance to learn more from other sectors.
“For example, RABDF believes that AHDB Dairy would do well to take a leaf out of AHDB Pork's book. AHDB Pork with a budgeted 35% to R&D/KE and almost 50% to export/trade development, would appear to have a more appropriate breakdown of expenditure than the current plans for dairy given the precarious situation the dairy sector now finds itself.
“The pig sector has learnt to live with many of the issues now facing dairy and appears to have developed a good and effective industry alignment on the way forward.” ■