The Tenant Farmers Association’s National Chairman Stephen Wyrill and Chief Executive George Dunn have met with the full board of AHDB Dairy for detailed discussions over concerns expressed about AHDB Dairy by the TFA earlier in the year.
“Having been critical of the performance of AHDB Dairy, particularly in the context of the present crisis within the dairy sector, I was pleased to have the opportunity of presenting our case to its full board. Senior officers of AHDB including its Chief Executive, Jane King and newly appointed Director of Strategy Tom Hind were also present at the meeting,” said Mr Wyrill. “This is unfamiliar territory for the TFA. Normally, our primary focus is on those issues which impact uniquely upon the tenanted sector of agriculture. However we could not ignore the clamour of concerns that were being expressed by our dairy members over the apparent ineffectiveness of AHDB Dairy to assist them within the current crisis and beyond. Whilst we would normally leave an issue like this to the NFU, it did not appear to us that there was adequate challenge to AHDB from that direction.”
“We covered a wide range of issues starting with the need for more work in the development of sustainable contract models for the dairy sector and better market management. We urged AHDB Dairy to be more active in the supply chain to ensure better and less volatile returns to primary producers into the long term. Recognising the need for massive change within the dairy sector, we also argued for much more advice about rationalisation and on exit strategies for those who have made the decision to leave the sector and who need help to ensure that they can do so with dignity”, said Mr Wyrill. “Promotion, an area that had been neglected over recent years, was a key plank of our presentation. Whilst there is some low-level activity ongoing, we argued that the Board needed to put in place a much clearer and more focused strategy for promotion and communication with consumers and first purchasers. We pressed the Board to be truly an advocate on behalf of the dairy sector quoting, as an example, the need to press the Government to implement the principles set out in the Bonfield report for public procurement which would enhance the amount of domestically produced dairy products being bought by the public sector.”
“Ultimately, it is about accountability. The Board needs to work harder to ensure that its levy payers are convinced that it is accountable to them. It was good to hear from Board members that the areas we identified were current areas of discussion within the Board. We look forward to seeing AHDB Dairy deliver more in these important areas as we continue to engage with it,” said Mr Wyrill.