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Union backs dairy consultation and urges reform

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Union backs dairy consultation and urges reform

A CONSULTATION seeking views on government reform in the dairy sector has been welcomed.

NFUS is urging dairy farmers in the region to have their say in shaping ‘a more effective dairy supply chain, with fairer terms for farmers’.
And they will be holding a series of virtual meetings on the consultation at the end of the month.
Dumfries and Galloway farmer Gary Mitchell, chair of the union’s milk committee, said: “This consultation could provide a pathway to a future for a dairy sector that is more resilient and innovative, something that is paramount at a time when we are moving out of a global pandemic, through the EU exit implementation period and significant changes in farm support.
“A rebalance of risk and power in the supply chain would offer stabilisation in the face of increased risk and volatility in markets. This is of fundamental importance as the vast majority of dairy farmers’ income comes via the milk cheque and not from farm support. The contract a farmer has with his milk buyer will dictate how the market value is shared.”
Gary, pictured above left, said while there is diversity in the supply chain, he believes most milk contracts do not create ‘mutually balanced’ business relationships between buyers and sellers.
He added: “Indeed, rights and obligations are often heavily biased in favour of  buyers. The efforts to address issues such as the Voluntary Code of Practice, whilst welcome, have not served to achieve transparency or fairness.
“NFUS recognise that the relationship between farmers and processors has improved in the last few years. Co-op and producer organisation structures are leading to better cooperation and putting farmers in a stronger position.
“We see that there is a huge opportunity to change the structure of the dairy industry to make it more sustainable, progressive and improve the way farmers and processors work together for common goals.”
The virtual meetings will take place from July 27.
To view the consultation in full go to https://consult.defra.gov.uk/agri-food-chain-directorate.
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