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Contacts for more information or to discuss

George Jamieson
Dairy, Education and Skills Policy Manager
M:  07789 796581
E: george.jamieson@nfus.org.uk
Stuart Martin
Dairy Policy Manager
T: 0131 472 4121
M:  07500 766083
E: stuart.martin@nfus.org.uk

UK Consultation on Dairy Contracts – All You Need To Know


NFU Scotland is urging all dairy farmers to engage with the long-awaited government consultation on dairy contracts and speak up for a more effective dairy supply chain, with fairer terms for farmers.

The government has launched the consultation after looking at the issue for two years, since a review of supply chain fairness by the Grocery Code Adjudicator found an uneven distribution of power within the dairy supply chain.

The four UK farming Unions believe that this ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to resolve the issues many dairy farmers and the dairy supply chain have as a consequence of contacts that are not in the best interest of both parties and the efficiency of the dairy sector.

Here, you will find everything you need to know about the consultation and how to respond. 

  • The consultation can be found here and will remain open for responses until midnight on the 15 September 2020.  We urge all dairy farmers to complete this.
  • To help NFUS formulate a response we would urge all farmers that complete the questionnaire to send us a PDF copy of their answers that they receive once completed.  Please send these PDFs to george.jamieson@nfus.org.uk
  • Attend a virtual meeting to hosted by NFUS to discuss the dairy contract consultation. 
  • A guide to the consultation questions and the issues the questions refer to is available here
  • A briefing on the five key points crucial to dairy contracts is available here
  • Dairy Contracts Frequently asked questions can be found here


NFUS wants your opinions.

NFU Scotland’s milk committee and staff have now spent considerable time analysing the broad principles and the detail of what a contract should deliver for dairy farmers and indeed processors. We have met with government officials, processors, consultants, banking leaders etc and dairy farmers supplying the various milk buyers in Scotland. Crucially, we have discussed the matter with our farming members, and many will have attended the ‘Road Show’ meetings held last year.  

At the of July 2020 held a number of virtual meetings, to engage farmers in discussion on the contracts consultation.  If you missed these meetings but would like to organise a similar event with a group please feel free to get in touch with stuart.martin@nfus.org.uk


Reform of dairy contracts: Five key points

For most dairy farmers, their contract to sell milk is the single most important piece of paper they have for their business and shapes the relationship with their milk buyer. Unfair milk contracts have been an area of concern for the dairy sector for many years. A significant proportion of the calls that the farming unions receive are from farmers with issues which ultimately relate back to their milk contract. While many farmers may never feel the need to look at the detail in their contract, it is crucial to their business given as much as 90% of a dairy farmers income (dairy farmers on average are likely to have a subsidy income of under 10%of their income) and for the most part the contract, which includes price setting, variations, volume agreements, dictates these fundamentals in a dairy farmers business.


In 2018, following an industry wide review of the Groceries Code Adjudicator, it found that there is an uneven distribution of power within the dairy sector. This led Defra and the Devolved Administrations to announce that they would launch a consultation on contract regulation aimed at improving fairness in the dairy supply chain.


The four UK farming unions (NFU, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and Ulster Farmers’ Union) are supportive of this approach and will be providing a response to the consultation. We have developed ideas over the past few years in consultation with our members which will be further enhanced over the consultation period. This includes the development of five key points for contract reform for a more transparent, fair, and well-functioning dairy supply chain.

A briefing on the five key points crucial to dairy contracts is available here


A step-by-step guide to the consultation questions

This step-by-step guide to the questions in the consultation provides context on the background to the questions and the key issues facing dairy farmers with their contracts. It explains each question in more detail and gives examples to help you decide on your answers. It also includes an outline of NFUS’ current view on each question and we are consulting with members to develop our position further throughout the process. This consultation paper includes 33 questions, which is a long haul, but Defra and the devolved governments are serious in their intention to develop a form of regulation which is fit for purpose and hence keen to hear the views of all stakeholders, but particularly farmers. The objective of this guide is to help farmers, some of whom may never have filled in a consultation, to respond to the consultation directly and to help inform the NFUS submission.

A guide to the consultation questions and the issues the questions refer to is available here


NFUS is here to help

The NFUS dairy team is available to help in any way we can. Milk committee Chairman Gary Mitchell has been involved with this crucial issue for many years and sees this as major opportunity for dairy farmers and the wider dairy sector.

He states: “This is the best opportunity since deregulation in 1994 for the dairy sector to evolve the current unfair, inefficient, short-sighted supply chain. The experience of Covid-19 merely underlines that risk management, efficient reactive and proactive volume management, logistics and long-term investment cannot be effectively addressed without industry coordination and cooperation.”

NFU Scotland, in addition to the 4 ZOOM meetings, is more than happy to speak to individuals, groups of farmers or interested parties to hear all views and to assist in developing our response to the consultation.

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