Collaboration needed in dairy chain Scotland

“The dairy industry needs to prepare for radical change; with more volatility, less support and greater competition as a result of Brexit, according to a Dairy Hub panel at AgriScot. 

More collaboration is needed across the dairy chain, the dairy hub panel at AgriScot agreed on Wednesday.

“Every part of the supply chain has to look at ways of dealing with and managing volatility,” the CEO of First Milk Shelagh Hancock said. “Mechanisms are one aspect of it, but there has to be a holistic approach in how we deal with it collectively. Not everyone will want to trade in futures, but that is one option.”

She added that we have grown accustomed to volatility over the last decade, but that the peaks and troughs are more amplified now. Swings of 10p/l to 12p/l are the norm, compared to just 3p/l a few years ago.

We have to be prepared for radical change and serious challenges,” AHDB dairy chair Gwyn Jones said. “The messages are not great. The only way to make sure farmers have the best chance of surviving is to make sure they are competitive and productive and I know that is not easy.”

And the dairy industry is not immune to the challenges around labour. NFUS deputy president Gary Mitchell said: “We are getting to crisis point much quicker than I imagined. In Dumfries and Galloway staff theft is a new crime. I heard of four farms that have stopped three times a day milking based solely on staff shortages, not cost. That’s 65,000t of cheese from Dumfries and Galloway that won’t be produced.”

The industry needs to prepare for radical change; with more volatility, less support and greater competition as a result of Brexit.”

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