Under the Wisemilk Initiative, UK-based Robert Wiseman Dairies and the farmers that supply it will collaborate to determine how raw milk should be valued by the company in future.
The initiative will focus on finding ways to deliver transparency on how milk prices are determined. Robert Wiseman hopes that this will allow dairy farmers to better plan for fluctuations in the market.
Four farmer representatives of the Wiseman Milk Partnership and directors from Robert Wiseman Dairies will undertake the work, which will take around three months to complete.
A Robert Wiseman Dairies spokesperson told DairyReporter.com that through the Wisemilk Initiative, the firm hopes to regain the trust of its dairy farmers.
“It is clear that at the moment the relationship between processors and dairy farmers is under some pressure. Market returns have been in decline, while farming costs have increased,” the spokesperson said.
“We are trying to rebuild trust with our dairy farmers, while maintaining our competitiveness.”
In recent months, UK-based dairy processors including Robert Wiseman have been targeted by protesting farmers.
The demonstrations, which were orchestrated by Farmers For Action (FFA), came in response to planned milk price cuts that would have seen the price paid to farmers for their milk fall below the cost of production.
As a result of the protests, a number of dairy processors including Robert Wiseman delayed their August-scheduled price reductions. Discussions between processors and farmers are still on-going and tensions are still high.
“In this situation, it is important that there is a level of transparency on how our farm gate milk prices are decided,” the spokesperson added. “From now on, we are going to work collaboratively with farmers to determine how we should value milk we buy in future.”
“The initiative will allow dairy farmers to better plan for ups and downs in the market. We can’t ignore the ups and downs of the market.”
Transparency and honesty
The agreement has been welcomed by the Wiseman Milk Partnership, which has heralded it as the “first step towards greater transparency and honesty in the milk price setting process.”
“There is a lot of work to do if dairy farmers are to have the bases from which they can move forward, invest and see a future in dairying,” said Wiseman Milk Partnership chairman, Roddy Catto.
“Confidence have been badly shaken and there remains a great deal of anger amongst dairy producers who righty feel that they are being asked to do the impossible – produce milk for a market that right now is not returning enough to cover costs.”