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NFUS Welcomes Call for Retailer Social Responsibility

NFUS have welcomed further calls from Mr Lochhead to retailers to look again at their social responsibilities to primary producers. 

The appeal came at yesterday’s Dairy Summit in Edinburgh, where only one of the major supermarkets, Morrisons, attended a high-level industry stakeholder event to discuss the future of the industry.  The event was chaired by Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead.

NFU Scotland Vice-President Allan Bowie, who spoke at the meeting, said:

“With threats of direct action and milk prices to farmers languishing below the cost of production, the pressure is on for retailers to take greater responsibility for their words and actions.

“Both the Cabinet Secretary and the EU High Level working group looking at milk issues have clearly identified that the dairy supply chain is not working and so it is particularly disappointing that three of the big four retail players in the UK failed to engage in these critical discussions.  In his comments, the Cabinet Secretary put pressure on retailers to be socially responsible for their actions and we back that pressure 100 percent. 

“We have been working behind the scenes for six months on long term solutions, but it is imperative that short term responses are made now, by way of a price rise, to allow farmers to continue to supply milk and milk products over the winter.  We’re 3p per litre below the real market for milk at the moment at a time when input costs of feed, fuel and fertiliser have soared.   No one can deny the pressures that farmers are feeling on the ground. 

“Retailers are in the fortunate position of having margins on fresh milk and dairy products that have been built up over years and a huge amount of flexibility in comparison to farmers who have very little.  Without charging the consumer a single penny more for their goods, they already have it within their gift to ensure farmers receive a fairer price for their milk.  I can not impress on retailers how important it is that change happens now.

“The introduction of a meaningful and proactive Supermarket Adjudicator, to enforce the Grocery Store Code of Practice (GSCOP) is a huge priority at the moment and we will be continuing to press for this at a UK and European level. It is clear that supply issues and pressures are not solely a Scottish problem, this is a UK wide issue and we must work together as an industry to ensure that an Adjudicator with real teeth comes to fruition quickly.

NFU Scotland is pleased to hear that Mr Lochhead will once again be raising this with Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman when they meet today.

“Fundamentally we need to see a culture change, and we need to stop seeing farmers being the back stop of the industry. While we recognise the importance of supermarkets, and are happy to work with them to ensure that the best quality produce makes it onto supermarket shelves, they simply must play fairly if they want supplies of fresh liquid milk and dairy products to continue to be produced with Scottish milk.  Their customers – the consumers - expect no less and, quite simply, it is time for the true value of milk to be reflected in the price paid back to the farmgate.”

Ends 

Contact Wendy Fleming on 0131 472 4020

Date Published:

News Article No.: 164/10


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