The UK dairy industry is open for business and ready to help build a stronger economy and better future, Dairy UK chairman, Dr David Dobbin, said tonight.
Addressing political and industry leaders at the Dairy UK annual dinner in London, Dr Dobbin said:
"In the wake of a momentous event in UK modern history, more than ever before do we need to ensure that the UK dairy industry is market led and innovative, that it is internationally competitive and best in class and most important of all, that it is open for business wherever that business takes us.
"We need everyone along the total supply chain to be aligned to our end customers' requirements and we need Government and other key stakeholders to share our vision and support us in achieving it. It is essential that we promote British dairy products at home and abroad with all the help we can get from Government. If we are going to go it alone and successfully compete in the global market, then we need a level playing field.
"I must also convey the very deep feeling across our industry that the UK Government and all devolved Governments need to reiterate their unconditional support for the dairy industry; an industry that contributes so much to the UK in terms of jobs, investment and most important of all, an industry which provides the nation with a wide range of nutritious foods that people enjoy and embrace as part of their everyday diet.
"The lesson we hopefully have learned from the last two years is that although our industry has good long term potential for growth, output growth has to be in line with the growth in global demand. If we want to grow faster than this, we need to stimulate demand and grow our market share at home and abroad.
"We have an outstanding industry with world-class products which is investing in its future. Our people have the ambition, the determination and the skills to succeed. We will tell the world that the UK dairy industry is very much open for business, that it is ready and willing to play its part in building a strong British economy and most important of all, that it is committed to creating a successful future for all our farmers, employees and all of us in this outstanding industry."
Farming Minister George Eustice said: "The UK dairy industry is enormously important to us. That's why we are pursuing a host of measures to help our dairy farmers deal with ongoing price volatility, including backing a dairy futures market and extending tax averaging, so they are well placed to take advantage of the growing global demand for dairy produce.
"Following Friday's vote to leave the EU, we are now preparing to negotiate our exit. As the PM has made clear, there will be no immediate changes - until we leave the EU, current arrangements for farming and our environment remain in place.
"We clearly need to support our agriculture and rural communities - and British farming must remain profitable and competitive. Defra officials will be working with a dedicated unit in government to look at a future package for farmers and the environment. We will work with industry and the public to develop these new arrangements."
Dr Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK, said: "We must not forget the UK dairy industry is part of a billion strong dairy community whose livelihoods and economic stability depend on dairy.
"We have a community that provides consumers worldwide with foods and ingredients that they want and love and aims to do so in a way that protects our planet for future generations.
"We excel at what we do in the UK and we are - and will remain - a strong dairying nation playing its part on the world stage."