The low milk price challenges

Published 15 August 15

What AHDB Dairy is doing to help in these challenging times, by Amanda Ball, head of marketing and communications.

With so much media and public attention on our industry, I thought you would appreciate a brief update, in this edition of DairyLeader, about the efforts being made to inform the debate and also help farmers in this time of such low milk prices.

Our core role of supporting levy payers with technical and business improvement information remains key. However, it has a shift in emphasis to provide focus on steps farmers can immediately consider - what can help right here, right now, to survive the low milk prices.

My extension officer colleagues are running meetings, where demand is high in a range of formats, focussed on topics such as cash flow forecasts, optimising contracts and maximising resources – e.g.  Forage, options for reducing stock numbers, if appropriate etc. Essentially all options that available as many face tough decisions. With so much pressure and stress on some we also look to signpost to support networks such as the Farming Crisis Network.

For those who are able to focus on more medium-term plans, and who have some of the things mentioned above already in place, we introduce them to looking at LEAN business practices. As you know, LEAN helps with managing costs and helps when reviewing systems and processes to minimise waste, in terms of time and money. More about LEAN management

Working with the media – In common with most industries, the public, commentators and other influencers, as well as you, get information via the press and media. AHDB Dairy has been working extensively with journalists aiming to ensure accurate reporting and the most up-to-date industry facts and market statistics are used. We have been actively introducing the media to ‘experts’, including farmers, who can give first-hand knowledge and accounts of the issues they face and the work they do. Much of the work with the media is behind the scenes, although often AHDB is credited as a ‘source’ in published or on-screen graphics. In recent days, the press office has taken dozens of calls from journalists and members of the public seeking to understand what is going on with milk prices. When responding to these enquiries this gives us an opportunity to highlight the ongoing ‘It’s in our hands’ campaign and promote a positive image of dairy farming to the public. For more information please see the thisisdairyfarming website.

As you will have read in All Things Dairy we have an ongoing programme to protect and promote the public image of dairy farming. We stepped up this work by getting out and about with farmers this summer to encourage the public to make more informed buying decisions.

Through our social media channels we are signposting quality logos such as the Red Tractor mark and, importantly, taking time to improve people’s understanding of the farming standards behind them.

Alongside all of this work, we have been working very closely with farming unions and other industry organisations to ensure we all play to our strengths