British dairy needs the right investment and trade agreement to grow and deliver quality products, the NFU has said at the first big dairy conference of the year.
Speaking at the Semex Conference in Glasgow, NFU vice president Stuart Roberts said 2020 offers more optimism than last year, which was dominated by uncertainty for the sector, particularly in the liquid milk market. It has seen huge implications for dairy farmers, including those affected by the Tomlinson’s closure.
However, he said the government must back British farming like never before, putting in place policies to ensure dairy businesses can prosper.
“It’s absolutely clear that whether it’s milk, cheese, butter or yogurt, the British public still love and value dairy with 98 per cent of households regularly buying dairy products that are nutritious and produced safely to high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection,” he commented.
Ensuring a free and frictionless trade deal with the EU must be top of the list, he added, as well as a future trade policy that doesn’t allow imports of dairy products that would be illegal to produce here.
“The alternative is the damaging threat of trading on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules meaning UK dairy farmers would face higher fees on exports, as much as 48 per cent on butter and 57 per cent on cheddar cheese.
“With the UK dairy sector exporting 3.2 billion litres of products to the EU, it’s essential we secure a deal with the EU or face costs in the region of £500m.”