The trade body has backed calls for the milk supply chain to improve after a meeting between National Farmers Union Scotland’s (NFUS’) Milk Committee and cabinet secretary for rural economy and tourism Fergus Ewing MSP.
However, the organisation for dairy processors said panic-buying, sparked by COVID-19, meant it was focused on ensuring that its products reached the shelves for consumers.
“Dairy processors are fully supportive of any moves to improve collaboration through the supply chain, and working closely with producers,” a spokeswoman for Dairy UK said.
“However, at a time when the industry is at full capacity dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring the supply chain continues to function and dairy products can continue to reach the shelves, is first and foremost our priority.”
Dairy UK called for all processors and producers to come together, and“not focus on issues which are going to take away much needed time and energy from efforts to keep our nation fed”.
The call comes after a meeting on Thursday, 12 March where Ewing and the NFUS discussed some of the major issues around milk contracts, supply chain inequality and labour.
NFUS’ new-look Milk Committee included farmer representation from Stranraer to Orkney and Ayrshire to the Borders.
Proposed legislative change via milk contracts was discussed and Ewing agreed that better transparency was required within the dairy supply chain.
There was mutual agreement from both the Committee and Ewing that, for some time, it had been recognised there had been a lack of processing investment and new product development in high-premium dairy products in Scotland.
Gary Mitchell, NFUS Milk Committee chair, said: “At a time when a large percentage of Scottish dairy farmers are at best breaking even, and a number getting paid less than they were for their milk 25 years ago, it was vitally important we make Mr Ewing aware of the challenges we face, and it was reassuring to hear Mr Ewing acknowledge this and [say he]wanted to work with us going forwards.”