Speaking to industry leaders and politicians at Dairy UK’s annual dinner in London, chairman Paul Vernon, explained the focus of the industry as Brexit approaches.
He said: “The Dairy Council and the British Cheese Board will be fully integrated into Dairy UK. Nutrition and health will be given a renewed focus within Dairy UK and there will be increased promotion of cheese.”
Vernon said the UK dairy industry played a “crucial role in consumer diets, rural communities, the economy and the nation’s food security”.
He revealed a number of changes to Dairy UK following a recent strategic review, saying Dairy UK was fully committed to a new mission to “promote the consumption of UK dairy products domestically and internationally”.
“We will pursue this new mission through being a strong and influential processor-led organisation with partnerships with farmers and other stakeholders along the supply chain. This new focus will be integral to everything we do now and in the future and, equally, it will define what we won’t do.”
Vernon outlined Dairy UK’s immediate priorities as promoting the nutrition and health benefits of dairy foods; promoting the positive benefits of dairy with regard to the environment and society, as well as the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement; and addressing a number of clearly defined Brexit-related issues and the impending issues around the regulation of milk contracts
“The changes we are making to the organisation are about delivering a stronger and more focused Dairy UK and making us evermore effective and relevant,” he said. “We will be increasing our staffing and increasing our communications capabilities.”
Vernon also highlighted that ensuring the Government understood the full implications for farmers and processors of their proposed regulation of raw milk contracts, and that the industry drove forward and that milk-based drinks remained exempt from the Government’s sugar levy were also priorities for the dairy sector.
Vernon added that “the clock is ticking and the industry needed stability and certainty of information”.
“Let’s be clear, as an industry we can deal with what is to come and make a success of it – but only if we know what form Brexit might take,” he said. “Knowing what transition looks like is now key and we urge those in power to give us as much clarity as possible. The same can be said for dairy farmers. A post-Brexit agricultural policy must help the industry progress and not hold it back. We need to ensure our dairy farmers are not disadvantaged.”