NFU Scotland’s campaign for a sustainable dairy industry
is growing in momentum with a number of significant developments
over the coming weeks. These are:
- At the request of NFU Scotland, the Milk Development
Council is working to identify opportunities for product innovation,
added value and market development. The importance
of innovation was stressed in an earlier study, which concluded
that reduced production would not itself lead to higher farmgate
prices. MDC will also look at the potential for distinct
Scottish branding on dairy products.
- NFUS has launched a questionnaire to identify current
costs of production. This will supplement a
similar exercise in England and Wales which concluded that,
on average, farmgate prices are 4 pence per litre below the
cost of production.
- The consumer campaign which began at the Royal Highland
Show has been continuing around the country. Thousands
have signed the NFUS petition urging supermarkets to play a
part in delivering a future for dairy producers. An inflatable
milk bottle highlighting the financial crisis in the sector
has been touring the country.
- NFUS will be delivering signed petitions to the major
supermarkets over the next four weeks. The process
will begin with NFUS visiting Tesco next week.
- NFUS is in the process of meeting representatives of
the major supermarkets to impress upon them the potential impact
of the crisis in the Scottish dairy sector.
NFUS Vice President Jim McLaren said:
“I’d encourage every dairy farmer to play their part
in this campaign. Whether it is speaking to shoppers outside
their local supermarkets, handing out leaflets, contacting their
milk buyer or simply filling in our questionnaire, individual producers
can make a big difference.
“It is clear from the thousands of people we have spoken
to that the Scottish dairy industry is hugely valued. We
need that clear consumer support to translate into sustainable
prices at the farmgate. In the short term, there must be
a better return to reflect rising production costs and improved
commodity prices. That is a message we’ll be taking
to supermarket’s doorsteps over the next month.
“However, we know full well that the road out of the current
crisis is not as simple as getting a fairer share of the supermarket
shelf price. We have to innovate our way out of trouble and
identify new markets. That is a responsibility for the farming
and processing industries. The MDC report of earlier this
year identified the need for product development, which is why
we have now asked them to do further work to identify specific
“Given the current financial nightmare across Scotland’s
dairy farms, it is difficult for many of our members to see a future. But
if supermarkets live up to the warm words in their corporate social
responsibility documents, consumer support remains rock solid and
we invest astutely in product innovation and greater efficiency,
I know there is a strong future.”
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