Dairy farmers urged to complete 'once in a generation' consultation

The UK government’s consultation wants farmers' views on new, fairer conditions for milk contracts
The UK government’s consultation wants farmers' views on new, fairer conditions for milk contracts

Scotland’s dairy farmers are being urged to complete ‘once in a generation’ government consultation on milk contracts.

NFU Scotland is encouraging all dairy producers in Scotland to complete the UK government’s consultation.

It was launched in response to concerns that dairy farmers tend to occupy positions of relative market weakness in the food supply chain.

Unequal bargaining power with processors and retailers can expose farmers to unfair treatment, with the potential to undermine equitable price transmission along the chain.

NFU Scotland says it has been calling for reform in milk contracts for a long time, and this consultation is 'the best opportunity for change in thirty years'.

Launched on 24 June, farmers have just four weeks left to participate in the online consultation - with the deadline set for 15 September.

Four Zoom meetings were held at the end of July, which saw Scottish farmers attend to hear more information on the consultation as well as raise any issues.

The union says it has spoken with milk processors, buyers, industry stakeholders and key dairy consultancies in order to reflect the sector’s thoughts on milk contracts.

NFU Scotland Milk Committee Chair, Gary Mitchell said: “For most dairy farmers, their contract to sell milk is the single most important piece of paper they have for their business.

"It shapes the relationship with their milk buyer, and therefore it is important that every dairy farmer engages in this consultation from Defra."

He added: “We have already had excellent input from dairy farmers with our Zoom meetings last month, but now we need you to fill in the consultation.

"This is the best opportunity for we, as the farmers, to take control into our own hands.”

A number of other nations have introduced regulations in an attempt to stabilise markets and address systemic imbalances.

In the EU, thirteen member states including France and Spain have introduced laws on compulsory written milk contracts between farmers and processors.