The future, post-Brexit, looks bright for the dairy sector when compared to its beef and sheep counterparts. That was the consensus of speakers at the second RABDF business and policy conference, held in mid-November.
Producers with fewer than 100 cows could be in the most volatile position post Brexit, according to Dodd & Co’ Rob Hitch. “These units are the most reliant on subsidies and have greater reliance on beef markets, which could suffer due to increased non-EU competition,” he said.
“But the withdrawal of area-based subsidies, as a result of the departure of unprofitable red meat producers, will push land rental prices down and this will create more opportunities for dairy producers to expand.”
Waitrose’s Duncan Sinclair urged producers to focus on the issues behind the farmgate and leave the politics to trade associations and politicians. He added that the next 12 months should be used to raise awareness of the scale of the upcoming challenges and identify activity that builds on existing programmes, encouraging a change in behaviour.
“While challenges such as the new Agricultural Bill, low-cost competitors and changes in British animal welfare are on the horizon, our commitment to drive sustainable farming and continuity won’t change.
“As a retailer, we have already proved willing to embrace change and work together which will help to mitigate any challenges posed by Brexit.” Quoting the chair of Waitrose Dairy Farmers’ Brian Barnett, he concluded: “Change is coming – so the best preparation for Brexit is to be the best we can.”