The calls come after another dairy business, Arla Foods, was forced to cut its milk price. Arla will reduce the price it pays its UK members by 0.80 pence per litre (ppl) to 23.01ppl from September 1 2015, it revealed.
NFU dairy board chairman Rob Harrison held talks with farming minister George Eustice to discuss the potential fallout from the current problems.
Desperately need help
“We desperately need the government’s help to ensure a fully functioning and fair dairy supply chain,” he claimed.
“Now is the time for action – just this week we’ve seen the French government provide a list of support measures and financial backing to help their farmers through this difficult period.”
Arla’s cut follows similar moves from First Milk, Dairy Crest and Müller UK & Ireland this year.
Dairy farmers across the UK are struggling and the market outlook for the rest of this year and into 2016 is not positive, the NFU claimed.
Harrison called on dairy farmers to talk to their banks now before the situation got worse and to open honest communication with milk buyers on future market prospects.
“With the outlook bleak for the foreseeable future I’d call on fellow farmers to talk to their banks, feed merchants, suppliers and business consultants now, before things get far worse, and utilise the resources available at Agricultural Horticultural Development Board dairy to help ride this storm out as best we can,” he said.
The NFU is working in coalition with the Farmers For Action, Tenant Farmers Association and others to help signpost help for the short-term and find agreed solutions for the long-term, he added.
Dairy firms' 2015 price cuts
- 2.43ppl: First Milk (February 1)
- 1.75ppl: Müller UK & Ireland (March 5)
- 1.8ppl: Arla Foods (July 9)
- 1.5ppl: Dairy Crest (March)
- 0.8ppl: Arla Foods (September 1)
“We all want to be part of a growing successful dairy industry but the next 12 months is going to be incredibly tough,” he said. “We urge farmers to face up to those difficult decisions and not wait in hope for things to improve.”
Arla Foods farmer board director Jonathan Ovens said Arla was painfully aware of the impact that the downturn in the markets was having at farm level.
“It’s not a lack of effort or determination on Arla’s part,” he claimed. “We are doing everything possible to help our owners to navigate through this increasingly tough situation, in the best possible way.”
Ash Amirahmadi, head of UK milk and member services, said: “The situation is not helped by high milk production throughout the world, while demand from China and Russia, in particular, continues to be low. These global developments are impacting all dairy markets throughout the world.”