Alyn Smith MEP brought Scotland’s dairy farmers to the forefront of a debate in the European Parliament last night (Monday), during the Nicholson Report on prospects for the EU dairy sector.
MEPs will today (Tuesday) vote on the report, which recommends solutions to address market volatility, such as proactive political support to encourage farmers to regard Producer Organisations (POs) as appropriate instruments to counter a weak bargaining position, and reiterates that milk quotas will not be re-established.
Alyn, Scotland’s only voice on the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said:
“The fact that this is the third price downswing in six years shows that there are still significant structural problems with the market that need to be addressed.
“I am disappointed that the UK Government has not taken advantage of the Milk Package options to make written contracts mandatory and to promote producer organisers.
“The Groceries Code Adjudicator, focusing exclusively on direct producer-retailer relationships is not much help to milk producers.
“Farmers are going to have to come together to improve their bargaining power, and this requires changed attitudes at all stages of the supply chain.
“We cannot over-produce our way out of this crisis, in search of phantom inexhaustible Asian markets which have largely failed to materialise. With Australian and American production still rising, we’re looking at global overproduction killing the sector.
“Our priorities are clear: we need to promote short supply chains, and support local consumption through labelling, as called for by the Scottish Government. The School Milk scheme is a positive step in this direction, and the Commission should look again at the case for country of origin labelling on dairy products.”