Disappointment over final milk supply plan

Tough talking in the European Parliament on the failings in the milk supply chain last year may have raised hopes the politicians would impose stricter conditions on buyers but yesterday, when the final package emerged, there was disappointment for farming unions and Scottish politicians.

Most of the disappointment related to the lack of compulsion on buying contracts, an issue which member states might take up but which UK farming minister Jim Paice has already rejected, preferring to leave it to a voluntary agreement within the trade.

Commenting on this approach, NFU Scotland vice-president Allan Bowie said that it would be crucial that all Dairy UK members’ signed up otherwise the voluntary agreement would be meaningless.

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George Lyon MEP agreed, saying the UK government had to be prepared to step in if it was seen that the voluntary approach was not working.

Alyn Smith MEP said he regretted the fact that good proposals put by the agricultural committee of the European Parliament had been knocked back by the European Council who prepared the final package.

“In particular, I’m extremely disappointed about the lack of mandatory written contracts,” he said. “I am astonished that this does not already exist – it is the very basis of fair dealing between commercial partners, and it is disgraceful that many farmers do not even know what price they will get when they deliver their milk.”

• Livestock auctioneer David Leggat received the NFU Scotland Ambassador award for the influential role he has played in communicating the work, challenges and the value of Scottish farming and food to a wider audience.

Leggat, part of United Auctions since leaving school in 1975, is one of the best-known and respected livestock auctioneers and judges in the country and in 2005 was awarded an MBE for his services to Scottish agriculture.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said: “His vision and diplomacy has ensured Scotland and its cattlemen have remained in the world premier league.”

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