NFU Scotland, Minister Meet with North East Milk Producers

SCOTLAND, UK - Dairy farmers in the North East met with NFU Scotland and Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon MSP last Thursday (14 November).
calendar icon 19 November 2019
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The meeting follows the recent decision by major milk processor Muller to serve a 12-month notice period on 14 producers in Aberdeenshire after a review of its operations in Scotland.

Farmers involved in the meeting included Muller suppliers on aligned supermarket contracts, those who are non-aligned and additional input from the Muller Farmer Board.

NFU Scotland’s Milk Policy Manager Stuart Martin, who attended the meeting, said: "Despite the sense of frustration and injustice in the room, the meeting was very focussed on solutions as the farmers strive to find a new and viable home for their milk in the coming 12 months.

"Dairy farming in the region has already undergone a huge degree of restructuring. In 2009, there were 51 dairy herds in the Aberdeenshire area. In the space of 10 years, this figure has halved, with no large-scale milk processing in the region.

"Faced with an uncertain time, it is important that a new milk buyer is found soon to justify investment levels in these businesses and providing suitable incentive and reassurance for their valued staff, who fear the writing is on the wall.

"We welcomed the opportunity to discuss with the Minister the massive disconnect that currently exists in the dairy supply chain with one of the farmers in attendance reporting that he is getting 0.5 pence per litre less for his milk now than he was 25 years ago, when he first started milking cows.

"There are deep-rooted issues within the milk market and, as part of a joint UK Unions initiative, NFUS has written to Westminster’s rural affairs committee demanding a short-life investigation into fresh milk. We hope that this will be a committee priority post-election.

"From a wider rural economy perspective, we also highlighted that a number of local private companies who supply into the local dairy sector are concerned about their viability post-November 2020.

"That is why it is important for all stakeholders to ensure that dairy farming in the region has a future and NFUS will support affected dairy farmers in the challenging days and weeks ahead."

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