• Scotland calls for governmental summit
  • Lochhead wants to meet UK, Welsh counterparts
  • Plan suggests independent voice in price negotiations
The Scottish Government as warned recent reductions to fargate milk prices will force many farmers out of business

The Scottish Government as warned recent reductions to fargate milk prices will force many farmers out of business

The Scottish government has unveiled a five-point action plan aimed at tackling pricing issues in the dairy industry.

The plan was announced by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead yesterday (12 July) following a meeting with NFU Scotland officials.

Lochhead, who warned recent reductions to farmgate milk prices will force many farmers out of business, has called for a summit meeting with UK and Welsh colleagues.

The five-point plan calls for the establishment of a timetable for consulting on legislation, asking UK agriculture minister Jim Paice to appoint an independent person to assist with the current negotiations between producers and processors and writing to retailers demanding clarity for consumers about how much producers receive for their milk.

The action plan follows an announcement of a GBP5m (US$7.7m) funding programme by UK Prime Minister David Cameron this week, which aims to back projects to help improve dairy farmers' competitiveness.

Around 2,500 dairy farmers from across the UK gathered for a summit in London on Wednesday, calling on processors to reverse the "crippling" reductions in farmgate milk prices.

This month, the UK's largest dairy processors - Dairy Crest, Robert Wiseman Dairies and Arla Foods - cut the price farmers are paid for milk down by a further 1.65-2ppl. The reductions followed cuts in May and June.

Show the press release

Five point dairy action plan
12/07/2012

A five-point action plan to tackle pricing issues affecting the dairy industry was today unveiled by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.

Mr Lochhead also told today's meeting with representatives of NFU Scotland that he has called for a summit with his UK and Welsh colleagues which would take place in advance of the Royal Welsh Show.

The meeting with the NFUS representatives was part of Mr Lochhead's continuing efforts to address the current pricing crisis and to find ways to better support Scotland's dairy farmers who are facing plummeting prices at a time of rising costs.

Today's meeting follows hard on the heels of a public meeting in Westminster where farmers from across the UK voiced their concerns at the latest round of milk price cuts.

The five-point plan includes:

* Calling for a ministerial summit to discuss the current situation and establish a timetable for consulting on legislation

* Asking Defra Minister Jim Paice to appoint an independent objective facilitator to assist with the current negotiations between producers and processors in an effort to agree a voluntary code of practice

* Writing to retailers demanding clarity for consumers about how much producers receive for their milk

* Commissioning a long-term strategic review to establish where the dairy industry wants to be in 10 years and how to get there

* Ensuring the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) have sufficient resources to accelerate their existing work on producer organisations and co-operatives

Mr Lochhead said:

"This afternoon's meeting with the NFUS was constructive but only served to further highlight the need for urgent action to tackle the issue of dairy prices. I was left in no doubt about the anger and frustration our dairy farmers are feeling and I can understand why they feel so aggrieved.

"I've been working hard to find a solution that better meets the needs of our dairy farmers and today's meeting with the NFUS was part of that. We must find a way to maximise the potential of this sector while also ensuring farmers are paid a fair price for a valuable product.

"I am clear that every part of the supply chain has a part to play in finding a solution to the current problem, including retailers and supermarkets.

"We all drink milk and we need the dairy industry to continue and we must not risk letting it crumble. I know that consumers are right behind the milk industry."

 

Original source: Scottish Government