Dairy contract reform, water quality regulations, huge increases in energy prices, the impact of bovine Tb on farming families and future agricultural policy in Wales were among the topics of discussion at a recent Pembrokeshire NFU Cymru county meeting.
Members who attended the meeting received an update from NFU Cymru dairy board chairman, Jonathan Wilkinson, and NFU Cymru national policy adviser, Tori Morgan.
Speaking after the meeting, Pembrokeshire NFU Cymru county chair, Roger Lewis said: “For most dairy farms, the milk contract is our single most important piece of paper and governs the relationship we have with our milk buyer.
“The fairness of dairy contracts has been debated for a long time and NFU Cymru has been working hard to develop a new code of conduct for dairy contracts.
“It’s heartening to hear that real progress is being made in Westminster to bring forward legislation on minimum terms for all dairy contracts across the UK, with the aim of improving fairness and transparency in the supply chain.
“We also want to see greater sharing of risk between farmer and processors, which means that the price we receive for our milk needs to be more market focused.
“Relationships and trust are key to achieving fairness in the supply chain and we believe contracts should be negotiated and any variations should be agreed by both parties, rather than unilaterally forced through.
“We’re also firmly of the view that dairy farmers should be able to choose between exclusive contracts, which stipulate all milk must be sold to one company, and non-exclusive contracts. This would give farmers the option to supply milk to multiple businesses. should they wish, which could enable us to take advantage of new markets.”
Commenting on Welsh Government’s proposals for the Sustainable Farming Scheme, Mr Lewis added: “The requirement for each farm to have 10% tree cover as part of the universal actions that will allow entry into the Sustainable Farming Scheme will be a huge barrier for dairy farmers to engage in the scheme.
“I fear that the scheme, as it’s currently drafted, is unlikely to be an attractive proposal for many dairy farming businesses in Pembrokeshire or indeed across the whole of Wales.”
He added: “I’m grateful to Jonathan and Tori for updating us on the lobbying work that NFU Cymru is doing on behalf of dairy farmers in Wales.
“I firmly believe that we have an amazing dairy industry in Wales that can deliver high quality, affordable food, and wider economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits for all the people of Wales, whilst meeting our ambition for net zero agriculture by 2040.
“However, we need Welsh Government to implement policies and regulation that is proportionate and evidence-based, and policies must be adequately funded to ensure that Welsh farming remains competitive with farmers in the UK, EU and global.”