Plans to stage a national dairy joint show in September have fallen through as Holstein UK – the UK’s leading dairy industry support organisation – has been unable to reach an agreement with the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF).
Despite protracted negotiations, Holstein UK’s board decided not to enter into a partnership agreement with RABDF today (Tuesday, October 11th) to deliver a joint event, after an independent audit of RABDF’s accounts.
The two organisations had discussed forming a joint-venture company to stage a national flagship event after people expressed the opinion that July’s RABDF Livestock Event fell well short of expectations, prompting the association to move its show to September.
But hopes of the partnership have faded, with Holstein UK citing RABDF’s approach to negotiations and the organisation’s financial position as the main reasons for their decision.
Richard Jones, CEO of Holstein UK, described the situation as ‘deeply regrettable’ but added that it was not in the best interests of the organisation, its members or the dairy industry at large, to enter into such an arrangement.
The announcement means that the dairy industry’s premier show, UK Dairy Day, will go ahead as planned on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at The International Centre, Telford.
Mr Jones said: “RABDF perform an invaluable service supporting the aspirations of the UK dairy industry by working with the government and in other forums for the advancement and benefit of dairy farmers.
“However, their decision to move it to September created the unfortunate situation of two shows being staged within a fortnight of each other, in roughly the same location.
“Clearly this is not ideal and as such, Holstein UK approached RABDF to work together to deliver a ‘National Flagship Event’, with the principal objective of supporting the whole of the UK dairy industry.
“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, it has not been possible to forge such a relationship with RABDF. Throughout the course of the negotiations, we have found it difficult to work with RABDF and are concerned about the charity’s financial position.
“In 2015, RABDF made a loss and they have not provided assurances that their performance will improve. Having undertaken a full, independent audit of RABDF’s finances, our auditors concluded that any joint-venture would not be in our members’ interests and that they could not advise the Board to enter into such a relationship with RABDF.”
Mr Jones added that despite 18 months of plummeting milk prices, which have seen many farmers exit the industry, RABDF pressed for increasing show prices by 25 per cent.
“This was another major sticking point,” Mr Jones said.
“As an organisation, Holstein UK exists to support the British dairy industry, so we made it clear we expected no increase in prices for 2017 compared to last year. We would not stand for any price increase when the industry has experienced such turmoil.”
Mr Jones said that UK Dairy Day would go ahead as planned, and if RABDF wished to support Holstein UK in delivering a fantastic, inclusive, national show, they would be welcome.
He said: “It is regrettable for our industry that we could not agree on a joint national show, but after carefully considering our position, it is clear it is not in the best interests of Holstein UK or its members to get into bed with RABDF. However, UK Dairy Day will go ahead and we will be planning from today to deliver the best ever dairy show in the UK, and we hope to see as many people from dairying in the UK attending.”