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UK Farming Unions Urge Dairy Farmers to Speak Up for Fair Contract Terms

Joint release from NFU Scotland, NFU England and Wales, NFU Cymru and Ulster Farmers’ Union

The four UK farming unions are today (23 November) urging all dairy farmers to engage with the forthcoming government consultation on dairy contracts to make their voice heard and speak up for a more effective dairy supply chain, with fairer terms for farmers.

The organisations have reiterated their support for regulated contract terms for dairy farmers and will be extensively consulting with their members when the consultation is issued, in an effort to rebalance where the risk currently sits within the dairy supply chain.

In a joint statement, the dairy farmer representatives of the four UK farming unions1 said: “For too long, dairy farmers have shouldered too much of the risk in the dairy market and in many cases have been subject to unfair contract terms and trading practices. As outlined in the GCA review published in February, there is clearly an imbalance of power within the dairy supply chain.

“As we await the Government’s consultation on dairy contracts to be issued, in order for us to understand the proposals in full, we are using this time to consult with our members extensively. We want to understand their views on dairy contracts and our final responses to that consultation will reflect our members’ views. We are all keen to constructively engage with industry and Government to deliver the improvements we all want to see.

“Together, we want to see flexible and innovative regulation that delivers fair terms for farmers and an equitable balancing of risk between farmers and buyers. We have been exploring a range of legal mechanisms to achieve this, including looking at Common Market Organisation (CMO) legislation as well as other legal powers that the government might use to achieve effective regulation.

 “As we leave the EU, the UK dairy market needs to be fit for purpose; commercially focused, innovative and competitive. It is vital that we have a properly operating dairy market where risk is shared across the supply chain.

“Dairy farmers need to be in a strong position to develop professional and sustainable relationships with their buyers, while operating to fair trading terms.”  Ends

Notes to editors

  • The dairy farmer representatives of the four UK farming unions are: NFU Scotland milk committee chairman John Smith; NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes; NFU Cymru milk board chairman Gareth Richards and UFU dairy committee chair William Irvine
  • The Government response to the consultation into the remit of the Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA), published in February 2018, included the proposed measure of ‘introducing compulsory milk contracts between producers and purchasers to help protect dairy farmers by setting out clear terms, including the price for the delivery of milk, the timing of deliveries, the duration of the contract, details of payment procedures, and arrangements for collecting and delivering raw milk’.
  • The situation regarding milk contracts in Northern Ireland is not the same as in England, Wales and Scotland and the UFU are currently undertaking internal discussion with the relevant authorities. However, the UFU are in broad agreement with the sentiments of its counterparts in Great Britain.

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 160/18


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