Farming: EU needs response from dairy sector says Lochhead

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SCOTTISH dairy farmers were yesterday encouraged to give their views on a European Union package of measures designed to put more resilience and sustainability into their sector.

Commenting on the start of a month-long consultation on the EU dairy package, Scottish government rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said that Scotland’s dairy farmers had been dealing with challenging situations in recent months such as the volatility in the price paid to producers and through using outdated contractual arrangements.

“However, the EU dairy package is one of a number of positive developments we are seeing for the industry and this consultation will give those with an interest the opportunity to air their views on the implementation of the package,” he said.

The package allows milk producers to set up their own producer organisations which would have formal recognition thus enabling them to negotiate contracts, including the price for milk.

The EU proposal also gives member states the option of making it compulsory for dairy processors to have written contracts with dairy producers but the Scottish Government yesterday indicated it did not want to invoke this provision as long as the voluntary code of practice was still bedding in

A third plank of the EU proposal aimed at giving more transparency in the supply chain did not gather government support as it believed similar organisations already existed to provide this information.

The producer organisation proposal was supported by Dairy UK, with director general Jim Begg stating these might potentially provide a new opportunity for producers collectively to market their milk.

“We will seek to co-operate with Defra and the industry to progress collaborative work in this area so that those producer organisations that do emerge are viable and can make a positive contribution to the supply chain,” he said.