Dairy Prices - Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Contents

6  Conclusion

43. The immediacy of the present milk price crisis and the impending end of the current Parliament led us to undertake a quick inquiry which has provided a snapshot of difficulties facing the dairy industry rather than a detailed investigation of its long-term challenges and opportunities. The clear lessons emerge, none the less, that even in a global marketplace where prices rise and prices fall, dairy faces unusual uncertainty that makes forward planning difficult to the point of impossible for operators in an industry containing many small businesses. The farming Minister rightly told us that long-term opportunities remain to be exploited by the UK's dairy farmers, and we agree with Mr Eustice that while the Government can take steps to help, the dairy industry itself has a significant responsibility for its own future and is generally better placed than the Government is to lead change.[61] We also agree with the NFU that the future of the industry is best served by driving on volume of production rather than price in promoting British dairy products.[62] Nor is it the role of the Government, as Mr Eustice told us, to help individual businesses with cash-flow problems.[63]

44. Having said that, we believe that dairy producers need greater certainty in their future and assurance that assistance will be provided when short-term, extreme price fluctuations threaten their viability. The measures proposed here are intended to assist in that direction; much more may be required if worldwide markets continue to create substantial instability.

61   Defra (DAI0016) Back

62   National Farmers Union (DAI0009) Back

63   Q120 Back

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Prepared 20 January 2015