South Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish was at Lanark Market yesterday joining dairy farmers at a rally on planned milk price cuts and hearing first hand from them their concerns.
The rally, organised by NFU Scotland, updated milk producers on discussions between retailers, processors and representatives of the dairy coalition which brings together farming unions and associations from across the UK.
Speaking following the rally, Ms Beamish said: “The proposed price cuts pose a real threat to the livelihoods of dairy farmers across South Scotland and the high attendance today indicates the concern and frustration felt across the sector.
“In recent weeks we have seen momentum gather with the agreement in principle for a code of practice and announcements that some retailers will increase in the price they pay.
“These moves will help to ease the short-term crisis facing the sector but more work is needed to address the underlying imbalance in favour of retailers that exists in the supply chain.
“In the longer term we need to see the Scottish and UK Governments working together to deliver the best deal possible for Scottish farmers and, if necessary, to legislate to level the playing field. I will be keeping a careful eye on developments and am seeking assurances from the Scottish Government that legislation is being prepared should the voluntary code not achieve the required results.
“The announcement today by NFUS that an umbrella group called “Dairy Farmers Together” (DFT) will be set up across the UK, open to all dairy farmers, large small and co-operatives businesses to join, was taken up enthusiastically by many of those present.
“This new initiative must enable dairy farmers to get back to their farms with some sense of security about the longer term future of the industry, due to the negotiating power which this new group will bring.
“The financial support from Scottish Government is welcome to kick start the group as it is essential that structures are in place to ensure momentum is not lost in the dairy farmers’ campaign for a fair price into the next generation.”