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Milk shake-up: Views sought

THERE'S a major shake-up of the dairy industry on the way and – with an estimated 48pc of the country's milk production based in south-west Scotland – farmers here are being urged to get involved. MSP Finlay Carson says a consultation, which is being led by the UK Government, is designed to level up the playing field in the dairy sector. "Despite the dairy sector being hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, the SNP Government failed to introduce any sort of dairy hardship fund which was introduced for farmers in England and Wales. Proposals include an option to introduce a mandatory pricing mechanism within all contracts between dairy farmers and processors. This would ensure the price paid for milk produced by the farmer is formally agreed within the contract, and that contract negotiations take place in a clear and transparent way. Conservative Mr Carson says dairy farmers in Galloway and West Dumfries should make their voices heard ahead of the consultation which ends on September 15. “This is a hugely important consultation and I would encourage all dairy farmers right across Galloway to make their voices heard over the coming weeks. “This can help to level up the playing field in the dairy sector, which for too long has been hit by unfair prices and unfair exclusivity clauses in their contracts and this is a chance to change that. “The SNP Government have failed to protect the sector with any sort of funding support during this time and we need to ensure that the sector can be protected going forward. “Our farmers across the supply chain must get the price they deserve for their milk, which is so valuable to families and the economy in Dumfries and Galloway.” The SNP's Emma Harper took issue with Mr Carson, however. “It is entirely misleading to say that the Scottish Government has not supported the dairy sector during the CovidD-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the Scottish dairy sector has been one of the least affected parts of Scotland's food and drink sector – particularly compared to that of other parts of the UK. “Compensation schemes introduced in England and Wales have only helped a very small group of the worst affected dairy farmers. This includes those who did not have their milk collected and saw massive cuts to the milk price – this has not yet happened in Scotland. The Scottish Government consulted closely with the dairy sector, including the NFUS, who did not want a similar scheme for Scotland. “Given that the NFUS and the Scottish Dairy Hub made it clear that they did not want a support scheme similar to England – facts which fly in the face of Mr Carson's comments - the Scottish Government worked constructively with the sector to help introduce a suite of agreed practical measures. This includes temporary easement of competition law requirements to allow industry to share more data and work closer together, as well as financial support to the joint Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Dairy UK marketing campaign to encourage more consumption dairy products." Details on the dairy consultation can be found here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/…/contractual-relationships-i…/

<< back Published: 22 Jul 2020, 19:15

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