A group of Welsh milk producers forging a path to the creation of Dairy Producer Organisations (DPOs) in Wales, are hoping to engage the interest of like-minded farmers at the Welsh Dairy Show at Carmarthen today (October 24th).
DPO Cymru, whose members are all dairy farmers from across Wales, was formed in reaction to the recent period of milk price volatility.
DPOs collectively bargain milk contracts and prices with the processor and are regarded as a means of future-proofing contractual terms and pricing mechanisms.
There are currently no DPOs in Wales but the group hopes to change that and the Welsh Dairy Show could be a launch point.
DPO Cymru, which has been supported by Farming Connect’s Agrisgôp programme, will have a stand at the Show, where it hopes to engage with fellow producers, and processors too.
Group member Aled Jones, of Hendy, Caernarfon, says thanks to the support received through Agrisgôp, members had gained an extensive insight into how DPOs operate.
“What we are not here to do is to start a DPO on someone’s behalf, that would come from a producer’s own initiative, but what we are in a position to do is to advise and support producers who might be interested in working collaboratively within this structure,’’ says Mr Jones.
In a post-quota situation, responsibility lies with producers and processors to designs systems that function well for everyone involved, Mr Jones insists.
“Fresh new thinking is urgently needed within the whole supply chain, a complete behavioural change.
“Milk prices have recovered but we can foresee other downturns, protests outside processors and supermarkets. Is that what we need? Are there better ways to operate?
“If we continue with the old way of thinking, we will continue with the old problems.’’
The group has already tested the water with a ‘DPO Cymru Summit’ at Aberystwyth in November 2016, hosted by Farming Connect.
This was well attended by farmers and processors, keen to learn more about DPO structures.
DPO Cymru member Tom Jones, of Maes Mawr, Anglesey, says it is now time to progress to the next level. “We hope to seed debate on ways to improve the long-term future of the industry.
“Farmers will ask the question – will being a member of a DPO pay me a penny a litre more for my milk? My response to that is that we need to create an environment where the ‘best price possible’ will be paid, driving for improved value in the supply chain whilst sharing risk proportionally.’’
Farming Connect provides knowledge transfer and advice to all agricultural sectors and is funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.