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The Princes Rural Action Programme Supports Dairy Sector


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A new initiative to support the British dairy sector has been launched today by The Prince’s Rural Action Programme, a Business in the Community (BITC) campaign. The project aims to support 100 farms with the objective of reducing the decline in the number of dairy farms by improving their profitability.

The first stage of the project focuses on a pilot scheme to deliver a package of business support and advice to selected farmers through a series of practical workshops to help improve their profitability and quality of life. The workshops will be run by leading experts in the dairy sector.

Mark Allen, Chairman, said, “The initiative is being driven by The Prince of Wales, for whom the future of dairying in the UK has been a long held concern. With his help I am delighted to say that we have managed to get unanimous support across the dairy sector to support our proposed project work.”

BITC stands for responsible business and the aim of The Prince’s Rural Action Programme is to engage business in tackling the key issues facing rural areas. Mark Allen continued by saying, “The decline in the number of dairy farms in the UK clearly has a knock on effects for the sustainability of the dairy sector, but also for the fabric of the rural economy and the countryside. This is a priority for the Programme and we have tasked a dairy sector working group with developing a practical programme to help address the issue.”

Approximately 100 farms across 5 regions in Britain have been invited to participate in the pilot and will take part in their first introductory session through November and December. The farmers involved will benchmark their cost of production through DairyCo’s Milkbench+ system; work with experts on opportunities to reduce costs and improve performance; develop a network with other local farmers with whom they can share knowledge and best practice; and, ultimately, improve the profitability of their business and their quality of life.

Eligible participants have been selected from farms within a 30 mile radius of Castle Douglas, Narberth, Ellesmere, Buxton and Langport. The farms have between 40-200 cows; are on a standard milk contract (ie. not retailer aligned); and most importantly, do not normally have access to this kind of support. Dairying must be the main commercial occupation of the farm business.

Mark continued by stressing: “The whole dairy sector is working collaboratively on this project. Our hope is that by getting the sector to work collaboratively on a practical pilot initiative such as this, we will lay the foundations for further action to address other challenges faced by the dairy supply chain.”


About Business in the Community

Business in the Community stands for responsible business.

With a membership of over 850 companies, engagement in 10,700 organisations internationally and an employee reach of 14.7 million, Business in the Community is raising the benchmark for responsible business practice. We offer our members practical support to help them transform their businesses and integrate responsible practices into their operations.  And we ask our members to work in partnership with us to help transform communities and tackle serious social issues where business can make a real difference.  Business in the Community is one of the Princes Charities, a group of not-for-profit organisations of which The Prince of Wales is President.

Mark Allen is Chairman of The Princes Rural Action Programme.

Companies and organisations involved in the Dairy Programme include: DairyCo, DairyUK, Promar International, Kite Consulting, NFU, Dairy Crest, Milk Link, Arla, Lactalis McLelland, First Milk, Volac, Wyke Farms, Fayrefield Foods, Meadow Foods, Glanbia Cheese, Robert Wiseman Dairies, Yeo Valley, Muller.

The pilot project involves about 100 farms in 5 regions: west Wales, south-west Scotland, the Peak District, the South-West England and Cheshire/Shropshire.  The farms were selected on the basis of their location, size and contract type and include all milk purchasers.

The first of 5 free workshops will take place in the autumn of 2011.  The content for the workshops funded by the partner businesses – will be flexible, according to the needs of the individual group, but will broadly cover the following themes:

  • Cost of farm production with an emphasis on improving profitability and quality of life
  • Herd health benchmarking
  • Financial management, including how to manage your bank manager
  • Management of soil, slurry and fertilisers
  • Feed and forage efficiency.

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