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Moo-re support, please

LACK of demand for milk has hit the dairy sector, which has 48pc of its farms in south-west Scotland. Now there are calls to better support for the sector. Emma Harper MSP quizzed Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing on the issue at Holyrood's Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. The South Scotland MSP asked: “How is the Scottish dairy industry being supported, financial or otherwise, during Covid-19? There are 48pc of Scottish dairy farms in the south west in my South Scotland region as we have seen a drop in demand for milk by the hospitality sector, including cafes and restaurants?" Miss Harper also requested information on a new milk-marketing campaign, being implemented by the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (ADHB). Mr Ewing MSP, said: “This Tuesday I had a conference call with several leading farmers in dairy sector, some on the National Farmers Union and senior positions in the Scottish dairy sector and discussed in detail the complex situation across the UK. “Most producers in Scotland are in retail sector rather than service sector so they have not suffered to the same extent as dairy farmers in England where the problem is more acute. “My approach will be that if there is real hardship for dairy farmers in Scotland, we will take that very seriously indeed but the advice I had yesterday from dairy farmers themselves was that the UK Government's plan wasn't particularly appealing." Miss Harper has been calling for additional support for Scottish dairy industry, including by promoting Dairy Producer Organisations (DPOs), while scrutinising the Scottish Parliament's Agriculture Bill, and has noted that dairy farming in Scotland has challenges that are more systemic and not a direct result of lockdown restrictions in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Miss Harper said: “The Cabinet Secretary also stated that problems in the dairy industry are more systemic. We need to ensure the whole dairy supply chain process is looked at and this could include further supporting DPOs. "This is something I have been raising awareness of recently in Rural Committee, but also since I came to office. I would like to ensure my rural South Scotland region receives the best support possible. “I'll be doing my bit to encourage people to drink milk as a healthy and nutritious drink and I would encourage everyone to continue to support our great dairy industry in their cooking and drinking choices”. Mr Ewing added: “We need to look at producers organisations or some other method so that farmer and producer are able to exercise a reasonable amount of bargaining strength in the market and not be in the position of exclusivity where you could lose all your income from one source, so not be reliant on one outlet - to minimise risk.”

<< back Published: 18 May 2020, 12:48

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