James Withers, Chairman of the Scottish Dairy Review, is asking for your views.
We have a great foundation with one of the most efficient dairy herds in Europe, a climate well-suited to grazing systems and dairy production, in a nation whose reputation for food and drink is growing both at home and internationally. All this at a time of increasing global demand for dairy products. Yet, the last 15 years have been marked by real challenges in the sector, particularly at the farmgate. So, how do we capitalise on our strengths, exploit the clear and emerging opportunities and move to a truly sustainable and profitable supply chain?
We need a new strategic direction which everyone involved in the industry can galvanise their efforts behind - from the farmgate through processing and retailing, from Government to our industry representative bodies.
James Withers said: “This review is an opportunity to shape a new direction for the industry. More of the same is not an option. This review won't seek to pinpoint blame at anyone for the challenges of the sector. Plenty of reports and groups have done that. It also won't spew out hundreds of pages of analysis of what has gone before. Instead, this review seeks to identify a step-change for the future.
So, for everyone interested in the future of Scotland's dairy sector, please consider this question:
What is the single biggest step we can take to forge a sustainable and profitable Scottish dairy sector?
There is already research commissioned to support the review. This is looking at the role of collaboration, the balance of opportunity between domestic and international markets and how well placed we are in terms of competitiveness and production capacity.
Please share with me your thoughts on how we achieve this step-change. Do we need increased farmer and processor collaboration? Should we create a brand identity for Scottish dairy produce? Is forging a new export industry, supplementing our UK market presence, the way to go, learning from other food and drink sectors that have done this well?