Following a dairy industry summit, Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment has called for widespread support of the dairy industry.
Mr Lochhead said:
“I am calling on retailers and other buyers to get behind the dairy sector in this time of need and to pay a fair price for milk. I fully recognise the difficulties being faced by dairy farmers because of the low price being paid for milk and volatility on the global market, and I have written to my UK counterparts calling for a joint ministerial meeting on this issue. I am also happy to meet again with the diary sector at any time and in any place during these very difficult times.
“I would also call on buyers to be more transparent about the prices they are paying dairy farmers – in January Sainsbury’s led by example by going public with their prices. It was refreshing to see retailers competing over the fairest deal for farmers rather than who can devalue milk the most, and we desperately need that sort of commitment again. I plan on raising this issue when I meet with the Groceries Code Adjudicator in September.
“The public will understand the frustrations being expressed by farmers as it must be galling for them to witness massive promotion of imported cheeses, butters and yoghurts, whilst domestic milk secures, at best, a zero margin.
“I can understand the farmers’ wish to make their voices heard. That is why the Scottish Government and our partners are taking a range of active steps to provide support as set out in our Dairy Plan.
“For example, the First Minister recently unveiled the new Scottish Dairy Brand to help promote our fantastic dairy products, especially on international exports, which attract a premium price of up to 15 per cent more than that paid in this country. We have provided First Milk with capital support, in the form of more than £400,000 towards the Campbeltown Creamery – with £311,000 of that being paid already – and will continue to argue for solutions at the EU level.
“We are in regular dialogue with retailers, food service and others to encourage sales of Scottish products including dairy. In this year of Food and Drink, August is the month of Delicious Dairy – no better month for Scottish consumers to get behind our dairy farmers. The Scottish Government will continue to actively encourage investment in new capacity, measures to spread dairy farmer best practice, promote consumption and demand, encourage transparency in the market, explore EU support arrangements, and work with First Milk on business development, including capital support.”