SETTING up dairy producer organisations across the UK would give dairy farmers the power of speaking with one voice and achieving proper cooperation with processors.

That is the view of NFU Cymru milk board chairman, Aled Jones, who has been part of an Agriscop group of dairy farmers pushing ahead with work in Wales on DPOs.

Mr Jones said: “Dairy farmers trade in a highly volatile marketplace and in the last 24 months we have seen markets depressed, with some farmers having received as little as 13p per litre. Whilst prices are now recovering, farming businesses struggle with the level of price volatility we have seen in recent years, we need to work together to deliver more sustainable pricing models going forward.

“Presently farmers deal on an individual basis with processors, however the use of DPOs would be a far more professional means of operating," he said. “DPOs have the potential to develop greater value for the whole supply chain with returns shared equally for the long term financial health of the industry.

“They can also play an important role in increasing farmer bargaining power and this lines up with NFU Cymru’s priorities for fairer, more balanced milk contracts and stronger producer representation. It will take time for this relationship to build, but if successful it would give added weight to calls for a collaborative dairy industry that can compete effectively in the UK and on the world markets – which will be especially important post-Brexit.

“There is a temptation that we look to others, the unions, AHDB, and the government to do this work on our behalf, but the real challenge is for us all as farmers to realise that the responsibility lies with us to act," said Mr Jones.

“It’s a shame that many UK milk buyers, both large and small, see DPOs as a threat and have publicly said that they will not work with farmers who are part of a DPO. Today in the dairy farming sector, collaboration is the key and NFU Cymru sees DPOs as a vital part of developing new relationships in the dairy sector.”