Solution to dairy crisis is closer to home

Scotland’s dairy farmers are at the mercy of a UK Government too stubborn to take advantage of solutions proposed by the European Parliament, says MEP Alyn Smith.

Alyn, Scotland’s only voice on the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, made the comments during Monday’s debate on the Nicholson Report on prospects for the EU dairy sector. The report recommended a number of solutions to address market volatility, including political support to encourage farmers to form Producer Organisations (POs) to counter weak bargaining positions. 

Following his speech, Commissioner Hogan invited Alyn to meet with him during Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg.

Alyn said:

“The most frustrating part of this is that the UK government already has the toolkit available to help dairy farmers. The Milk Package gave them these tools. It could be that the UK Government is simply unaware of these opportunities, or perhaps just too stubborn to consider them. Either way, the continued inertia coming from Westminster is having a very real, very dangerous effect on our farmers.

“I’ve suggested that it is time that the Commission shows a bit of impetus on naming and shaming those Member States that have not taken advantage of compulsory contracts, local processing, producer organisations, and so on, which includes the UK. At the moment there is a structural problem in the European milk market, and until we recognise this and act accordingly, the sector will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis.”

The Nicholson report was adopted by 510 votes to 154 on Tuesday evening.