Agriculture MEP Welcomes Supermarket Price Fines

07 December 2007
SNP Member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Mr Alyn Smith has today (Friday) applauded the announcement of heavy fines on supermarkets, and called for the money to be paid not to the UK government but to farming bodies instead.

The fines have been in the offing for some time, but today the Office of Fair Trading announced that a number of dairy firms and supermarkets Sainsbury's and Asda will pay some GBP116 million after admitting pricefixing in the milk and dairy market.

Tesco and Morrison's along withdairy firm Lactalis McLelland is continuing to dispute their fines but it is likely they too will be fined in the future.

Mr Smith said:

"This has been a long time coming, and while it will be good news forScotland's hard pressed farmers for many it will come too late as theyhave been forced out of business by the heavy handed tactics of thesupermarkets.

"These fines are heavy, but for the big supermarkets they are a drop in the ocean. This money could however go to very good use if it was given instead to the industry.

"The Scottish government recently set up a new scheme to help new farmers into the industry, and the cash could be usefully employed there rather than just a windfall for the UK Treasury.

"It would be a straightforward enough exercise to work out how much of the fine relates to activity in Scotland, and to put this money to the new entrant's scheme. This would achieve a greater degree of equity than for supermarkets to bully farmers, collude against the interests of their customers then pay the cash to the UK government."