Legislation on Milk Prices Urged if No Progress Made

SCOTLAND, UK - Over 300 Scottish dairy producers met at Lanark mart earlier this week to demonstrate their anger and frustration at recent milk price cuts. Scotland's Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said that is a voluntary agreement cannot be reached to tackle plummeting milk prices then the option of legislation should be explored.
calendar icon 10 July 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

In a letter to the UK Farming Minister Jim Paice, Mr Lochhead said: "These further price cuts clearly demonstrate that the milk supply chain is not operating fairly and the ongoing instability in the market is not serving the long term interests of the wider industry.

"The level of frustration amongst milk producers is understandably high and if we do not act now we run the risk of more dairy farmers leaving the industry in disgust, hampering the sector’s ability to meet both domestic demand and maximise its undoubted export potential. That would be a travesty.

“While I welcomed the initiative to encourage the milk processors and producers to agree a voluntary code of practice to tackle current price imbalances, I believe that we must signal that we are prepared to take further action."

Mr Lochhead asked Mr Paice to join him in increasing the pressure on the major retailers and processors to provide producers with a return that properly rewards their commitment and professionalism.

If a voluntary code of practice cannot be agreed to tackle pricing issues, then the Scottish Government will be left with no option but to begin exploring the case for legislation - though a voluntary deal remains our preferred solution.

“Our dairy farmers produce a high quality and essential product for which they deserve to be paid a fair and equitable price. The current epidemic of price cuts is simply unsustainable and cannot be allowed to continue unchecked.”

NFU Scotland supports this stance, saying that if the industry cannot agree a fair dairy code of practice, which guarantees farmers a realistic return from the marketplace and power to negotiate their contracts effectively, the UK Government must step in and legislate for compulsory and equitable contracts.

The situation has also created a level of unity within Scotland and the rest of the UK – between farmers and farming unions alike – to break the destructive power of discretionary pricing.

“We are at a crossroads, and our best option is to agree upon the goals which can actually lead to change. This may require legislation from Westminster or Holyrood, or both."

Tomorrow (11 July) it is estimated that around 2000 farmers will meet in Westminster with Mr Paice in a bid to send a clear signal to processors, retailers, government and consumers that the fresh pint of milk, taken for granted, is currently on the endangered species list and could become extinct.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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